Marc Chagall (Russian-French, 1887-1985)

Saint Germain des Pres, 1953


Artist’s proof

Inscribed and signed ‘H.C. Marc Chagall’ (lower edge)

15.1/4 x 11 in. (38.8 x 28 cm.) (to slip edge)

22.1/2 x 18.1/8 in. (57 x 46 cm.) (frame size)

Condition: In good order, in a gilded slip, in a mauve mount, behind glass in a gilded frame.

Provenance: Galerie Adrien Maeght, Paris


Marc Chagall's poetic, figurative style make him one of most popular modern artists, while his long life and varied output made him one of the most internationally recognized. While many of his peers pursued ambitious experiments that often led to complete abstraction, Chagall's distinction lied in his steady faith in the power of figurative art, infusing his work with touches of humour, emotion and cheerful colour. He maintained his figurative style despite absorbing ideas from Fauvism and Cubism. Born in Russia, Chagall moved to France in 1910 and became a prominent figure within the so-called École de Paris. Later he spent time in the United States and the Middle East, travels which reaffirmed his self-image as an archetypal "wandering Jew."

Marc Chagall was the eldest of nine children born to Khatskl Shagal and Feige-Ite in the settlement town of Liozna, near Vitebsk, an area that boasted a high concentration of Jews. Raised in a Hasidic family, Chagall attended local Jewish religious schools  (obligatory for Russian Jews during this time, since discrimination policies prohibited the mixing of different racial groups) where he studied Hebrew and the Old Testament. Such teachings would later inform much of the content and motifs in Chagall's paintings, etchings and stained-glass work.

Marc Chagall's influence is as vast as the number of styles he assimilated to create his work. Although never completely aligning himself with any single movement, he interwove many of the visual elements of Cubism, Fauvism, Symbolism and Surrealism into his lyrically emotional aesthetic of Jewish folklore, dream-like pastorals, and Russian life. In this sense, Chagall's legacy reveals an artistic style that is both entirely his own and a rich amalgam of prevailing Modern art disciplines. Chagall is also, much like Picasso, a prime example of a modern artist who mastered multiple media, including painting in both oil and gouache, watercolour, murals, ceramics, etching, drawing, theatre and costume design, and stained-glass work.