Le Peintre au chevalet, 1948
Signed and dated lower right 'Chagall / Marc' '1948'
Brush, pen, ink and ink wash on paper
25 5/8 x 19 5/8 in, 65 x 49.8 cm
This brooding self-portrait of the artist at his easel was made in 1948 when Marc Chagall returned to Paris following his enforced stay in New York during the war. Playing...
This brooding self-portrait of the artist at his easel was made in 1948 when Marc Chagall returned to Paris following his enforced stay in New York during the war. Playing with touches of dark ink, Chagall captures his sense of unease at his return to Europe. Chagall spoke widely of his disgust towards France and the Vichy regime for their collaboration with the Nazi Party and his guilt over the horrors of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, Chagall’s daughter Ida urged the artist to return to Paris to take advantage of his soaring popularity.
Chagall’s homecoming was also tainted by the memory of his wife Bella: dying tragically of a viral infection in 1944, the slender and melancholic figure of Bella would become a reoccurring motif for the rest of Chagall’s career as he struggled to come to terms with his grief. Standing tenderly over the artist’s shoulder in this work, Bella appears as a faint memory or a ghost from the forgotten past. This poetic juxtaposition of dream and reality in ‘Le Peintre au chevalet’ evokes Chagall’s turbulent sense of identity following his displacement from Europe and the loss of Bella. Shown as a solitary figure, Chagall suggests his uncertain place as an artist as well as the iconic cipher of the wandering Jew.
Arriving in August 1948, Chagall set up a studio in a simple wooden house in Orgeval outside of the city with his young lover Virginia Haggard. During this period the artist experienced significant success with a major travelling retrospective at MoMA, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Bern and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. This exhibition was the first at the newly opened Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris after the war. In the same year Chagall was also awarded the prize for graphic art at the Venice Biennale.
The Artist's Estate
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity (no. 2016032) issued by the Comité Marc Chagall in Paris, signed by Jean-Louis Prat and dated 31 March 2016