Fine Art

Marc Chagall

Russian, Active in France, 1887-1985

Les mariés à l’âne vert

Oil and brush and ink on canvas
16 x 10 1/4 inches (40.6 x 26 cm)
Framed: 23 x 17 3/4 inches (58 .5 x 45 cm)
Stamped with the signature lower right: Marc Chagall


Estate of the artist
Sale, Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, June 15, 2007, lot 13
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired at the above sale)
Private collection, Long Island, NY


Osaka, Takashimaya Art Gallery; Kyoto, Takashimaya Art Gallery; Yokohama, Takashimaya Art Gallery; Tokyo, Takashimaya Art Gallery; Okayama, Okayama Prefectural Museum of Art & Gifu, Museum of Fine Arts, Marc Chagall, La Réminiscence de l’amour, 2012, no. 50, illustrated in color in the catalogue

This painting is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Marc Chagall.

Marc Chagall was born July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia and was educated in art in Saint
Petersburg and, from 1910, in Paris, where he remained until 1914. Between 1915 and 1917 he lived in Saint Petersburg. After the Russian Revolution he was director of the Art Academy in Vitebsk from 1918 to 1919 and was art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater from 1919 to 1922. Chagall painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed the settings for numerous productions. Thereafter he returned to Paris. During World War II, Chagall fled to the United States. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gave him a retrospective in 1946. He settled permanently in France in 1948.

Chagall is distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. Chagall's personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration. His distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian Expressionism and was influenced decisively by French Cubism. Crystallizing his style early, he later developed subtle variations. His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, as in I and the Village (1911, Museum of Modern Art, New York City), and incidents in his private life, as in the print series Mein Leben (German for "My Life,"1922), in addition to treatments of Jewish subjects, of which The Praying Jew (1914, Art Institute of Chicago) is one.

Marc Chagall's works combine recollection with folklore and fantasy. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939, illustrating the Old Testament, and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem (1962). In 1973, Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall (National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message) was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A canvas completed in 1964 covers the ceiling of the Opéra in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. An exhibition of the artist's work from 1967 to 1977 was held at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, in 1977-78, and a major retrospective was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1985. Chagall died March 28, 1985, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.

Brides and grooms repeatedly appear in Chagall’s art throughout the span of his eighty-year career. Seemingly enchanted by the symbolic interlocking of two souls in matrimony, the artist’s happy marriage to his childhood sweetheart Bella, ending only with her death in 1944, compounded his fascination with the subject. The presence of a bride in a white gown in the present 1967 composition is a poignant evocation of his happy relationship in a powerful composition which succeeds as a touching ode to young love.

In this charming work, a couple hover beneath familiar elements of Chagall’s visual vocabulary: a floating acrobat, a green donkey and a candelabra. The deep, cavernous-blue of the background is enlivened by the rich splashes of purple, green, yellow, white and red. The symbol of the green donkey appears in Chagall’s 1911 composition L’ane vert in the collection of the Tate Modern, London, also set against a deep blue background. The style of L’ane vert is naïve but the imagery coheres neatly with the artist’s subsequent preoccupation with his Russian heritage and Jewish ancestry as two peasants take charge of their pack animal. The candelabra further heightens the artist’s nostalgic allusion to his Jewish hometown.