Petit bouquet signed, inscribed and dated 'Pour Teriade/ 14 mai/ Chagall' (lower right) pen and gouache on paper 9.8 x 18.9cm (3 7/8 x 7 7/16in). Executed circa 1950
PROVENANCE Tériade, (gifted directly by the artist). Alice Tériade, Tériade's wife (by descent from the above). Gifted by the above to the present owner.
This work is sold with a photo-certificate of authenticity from the Comité Chagall.
A constant motif throughout Chagall's oeuvre, flowers clearly held great meaning for the artist. Traditionally symbols of beauty, romance and innocence, flowers also carry with them a reminder of the fleeting and fragile nature of these concepts, reinforcing the preciousness of the present. Rendered in delicate and slender outlines, Petit bouquet is immediately recognisable as by the hand of the artist. Shadowing the embracing lovers, the bouquet springs to life in a burst of life-affirming mauve and blue pigments.
Petit bouquet may have been executed during one of Chagall's two trips to Greece in the 1950s following the artist's commission by his friend the publisher Tériade [born Stratis Eleftheriades] to work on a series of illustrations to the second century AD romance Daphnis and Chloe (commissioned in 1952 and published in 1961). Chagall had first met Tériade in 1940 when the latter had bought a large part of the stock of Ambrose Vollard, Chagall's previous publisher. This included the artist's unused plates for illustrations to Gogol's Les Ames Morts, which, partly reworked, Tériade published in 1948. The relationship was to prove extremely fruitful, resulting in major series of illustrations to the Fables of La Fontaine (1952) and the Bible (1956), as well as several projects in Tériade's journal Verve.
The present work was gifted to Tériade by the artist and stands testament to the men's mutual respect and deep friendship.