Marc Chagall (1887-1985) La musique au village (work) 76.5 x 56.5 (30 1/8 x 22 1/4in).(sheet)
Lot 34AR
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) La musique au village (work) 76.5 x 56.5 (30 1/8 x 22 1/4in).(sheet)
Sold for £73,250 (US$ 123,120) inc. premium
Lot Details
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
La musique au village
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
monotype on Japan paper
62 x 45cm (24 7/16 x 17 11/16in).(work) 76.5 x 56.5 (30 1/8 x 22 1/4in).(sheet)
Executed in 1974


    J. Leymarie, Marc Chagall Monotypes 1966-1975, vol.II, Geneva, 1976, no.253 (illustrated p.68).

    The owner of this work is the author of the celebrated classic novel, Watership Down. Published in 1972, the book went onto become Penguin Books' best selling novel of all time. The book was later adapted into an acclaimed film and television series.

    'If you ask Chagall to explain his paintings even today he will reply: 'I don't understand them at all. They are not literature. They are only pictorial arrangements of images that obsess me... My paintings are my reason for existence, my life and that's all'' (James Johnson Sweeney quoted by D. Schneider, A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Paintings of Marc Chagall, College Art Journal, 1946, vol.6, no.2, p.115).

    This quote from Chagall sheds light on the importance that passion and obsession played in his career as an artist. But in turn, it also calls viewers to understand the sources of Chagall's obsession in order to give insight into his largely biographical works.

    Chagall's youth as a Jew in Russia, and the folklores and traditions he absorbed as part of that upbringing had a great effect on his life and preoccupations as an artist. One biographical fact that may relate to La musique au village is that Chagall said of his uncle: 'He played the violin like a shoemaker' and further recalled that the same uncle would climb onto the rooftop of his own house to get some respite from everyday life (Ibid, p.117). It is highly likely that this composition was a recollection of his childhood and the scenes that played out in front of him as a young boy.

    The greens, browns and purples that dominate the palette of this monotype are richly nostalgic and support the dream-like quality of the work. However, flashes of red highlight the man playing the horn and the bird to the right of the composition, which serve to focus the viewer's senses on the noise and activity of the scene that Chagall has constructed.

    Chagall began to produce monotypes only when Gérald Cramer, his Swiss publisher, suggested it to him in the late 1950s (MoMA, Painter, Printer, Publisher, Autumn 1979, no.12, p.3). From that point, Chagall worked with Cramer and the printer Jacques Frélaut to produce an outstanding group of etchings, aquatints, woodcuts and monotypes, including works such as La musique au village. In fact, an exhibition of examples from that body of work was presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) between November 1979 and January 1980 and Riva Castleman, Director of the Department of prints and illustrated books at MoMA, interestingly noted at the time that 'this exhibition is about the creative interaction of three devoted people' (Ibid, p.3).

    La musique au village is about the devotion of Chagall to the influence of his heritage, to the devotion of exploring his identity through imagery and also tells of the professional devotion that Chagall, Cramer and Frélaut had to print craftsmanship.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the artist's dates should read '1887-1985' and not as stated in the catalogue.
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  1. Deborah Allan
    Specialist - Impressionist and Modern Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8276
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
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