We use cookies to remember choices you make on functionality and personal features to enhance your experience to our site. By continuing to use our site you consent to the use of cookies. Please refer to our privacy and cookie policies for more information

Skip to main content

Impressionist & Modern Art / MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985) Les lys blancs 16 9/16 x 11 11/16 in (42.1 x 29.7 cm) (Executed in 1935-1936)

Lot 3
Les lys blancs
18 May 2022, 17:00 EDT
New York

Sold for US$132,675 inc. premium

Own a similar item?

Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.

How to sell

Looking for a similar item?

Our Impressionist and Modern Art specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.

Find your local specialist


MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Les lys blancs
signed 'Chagall Marc' (lower left)
oil, gouache and black pencil on paper
16 9/16 x 11 11/16 in (42.1 x 29.7 cm)
Executed in 1935-1936


The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Marc Chagall.

James Vigeveno Galleries, Los Angeles.
Amalia de Schulthess Collection, Santa Monica (acquired from the above in February 1952).
Thence by descent to the present owners.

"You could wonder for hours what flowers mean, but for me, they're life itself, in all its happy brilliance. We couldn't do without flowers. Flowers help you forget life's tragedies."
– Marc Chagall

Chagall first explored the floral still-life in the mid-1920s after returning to his native homeland Russia from a trip to France. As James Johnson Sweeney noted:

"It was in Toulon in 1924, Chagall recalls, that the charm of French flowers first struck him. He claims that he had not known bouquets of flowers in Russia...He said that when he painted a bouquet it was as if he was painting a landscape. It represented France to him. But the discovery was also a logical one in the light of the change taking place in his vision and pictorial interests. Flowers, especially mixed bouquets of tiny blossoms, offer a variety of delicate color combinations and a fund of texture contrasts which were beginning to hold Chagall's attention more and more" (quoted in Marc Chagall, New York, 1946, p. 56).

Executed circa 1936-1936, Les lys blancs dates to a pivotal point of creativity energy in Marc Chagall's body of work. With the Second World War looming, it was a perilous time, and Chagall recognized the dangers threatening Europe and consequently many modern artists, Jew and gentile. As an Eastern European Jew living in France, Chagall managed to secure his French citizenship and move his family to the Loire region; he was grateful to be French, and he sought inspiration in his beautiful surroundings, describing the impact as "the light of freedom which I had seen nowhere else...only this lumière-liberté can give birth to such sparkling canvases, where technical revolutions are just as natural as the language, the gesture, the work of the passerby in the street" (quoted in B. Harshav (ed.), Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 68). The artist painted major floral compositions between the years 1935-1938, and while not exclusively a still-life painter, flowers dominated Chagall's compositions throughout his oeuvre. Here, the vivid blooms burst through an overfilled vase in virtual explosion, a striking embodiment of the artist's signature style from the 1930s. Executed in multiple mediums of gouache, oil and black pencil in overlapping forms and colors, Les lys blancs demonstrates Chagall's masterful ability to manipulate dramatic contrasts with a fantastical and romantical lyricism – an outpouring of Chagall's own love for his new homeland.

Additional information