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Marc Chagall (Russia/France 1887‑1985)

”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”

To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 10 – 12 May 2023

Lot 418 Marc Chagall (Russia/France 1887‑1985). ”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”. Signed Marc Chagall lower left. Gouache, India ink and pencil on paper, 51 x 33 cm.

Executed in 1967.
A certificate of authenticity issued by Comité Marc Chagall
17 October 2014 is included with this lot.


2.000.000 – 3.000.000 SEK
€ 177.000 – 266.000


Heinz Berggruen & Cie, Paris (acquired from the artist by October 1968).
Hokin Gallery, Inc., Chicago (acquired from the above by 1976).
Private collection, California (acquired from the above in 1976).
Gustfield-Glimer Galleries, Lt., Illinois.
Private collection, United States.
Mollbrink’s Art Gallery, Uppsala (acquired in November 2014).
An important Swedish private collection, acquired from the above.

In context

Marc Chagall’s Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”

– A celebration of life, joy and love

For Marc Chagall, nature and love played an important role in his oeuvre and this striking composition from 1967 is an affirmation of abundance and life. Throughout Chagall’s life, the elements shown in his works are laden with significance. The flowers of Chagall’s dream world not only recall the beauty of the French countryside, but also often seem emblematic of the artist himself. At the time that he painted “Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”, Chagall lived and worked in a sun-drenched Saint-Paul de Vence in south of France together with his second wife Valentina Brodsky. Chagall’s daughter Ida introduced Valentina to her father in the spring of 1952, and the couple married only a few months later. Describing the later part of his acclaimed career “a bouquet of roses”, Chagall enjoyed a peaceful and joyful life surrounded by a lavishing garden and love from his family. The explosion of colourful flowers and vivacity in ”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs” reflects the artist’s life at this point. From his home he worked with an everlasting enthusiasm even in his later years and found inspiration in both the past and present. ”To see the world through bouquets! Huge, monstrous bouquets in ringing profusion, haunting brilliance. Were we to see [Chagall] only through these abundances gathered at random from gardens… and naturally balanced, we could wish for no more precious joy!” (E. Tériade, Chagall and Romantic Painting, in J. Baal-Teshuva, ibid., p. 136).

Born into a poor Hasidic family near Vitebsk, in the Western part of Russia, Marc Chagall was the eldest of nine children. It was the images and memories from these early Russian years that would repeatedly be used in his art when he left his hometown and moved to Paris. The Russo-Jewish culture was an emotional and intellectual source that populated his memories, and fuelled his imagination with strong experiences from his childhood. Chagall’s works are often autobiographical and mirror the artist’s views on life. Throughout Chagall’s oeuvre, the figures are laden with significance. The animals seen in Chagall’s dreamlike paintings – donkeys, goats and cockerels – not only recall the peasant life in his hometown but often seem emblematic of the artist himself. The artist’s pre-occupation with Jewish themes and religious family life resulted in many intriguing pictures. Chagall’s Russian and Jewish heritages are at the very core of his work. In the present work, the artist has captured his past as the small houses below the flower bouquet reminds one of his provincial upbringing in Vitebsk.

In his later life, florals came to dominate Chagall’s art, as seen in ”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”. Flowers and the still life was a theme he had explored many years prior, beginning when he came to France from his native Russia in 1923. When they first appeared on his canvases, the flowers symbolized the romance between Chagall and his beloved first wife Bella. ”It was in Toulon in 1924… that the charm of French flowers first struck him. [Chagall] claims he had not known bouquets of flowers in Russia – or at least they were not so common as in France… 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” (J.J. Sweeney, Marc Chagall, New York, 1946, p. 56). Settling down in the French countryside, Chagall discovered a love for nature and was particularly enchanted by flowers. He travelled south to the Midi and Côte d’Azur and was stunned by the beauty in the southern region. The rolling landscape with its untouched nature and shimmering light captivated him, and from now on he continuously painted colourful flower bouquets. The series of flower paintings came to define his late oeuvre upon his move to the south of France. He recalled: “There in the south, for the first time in my life, I came into contact with a flower-filled greenery such as I had never seen in my native city” (Chagall, quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall: A Retrospective, Connecticut, 1995, p. 172).

Following the death of Bella in 1944, Chagall continued to include the loving couple in his paintings and gouaches. His imagined union between the two lovers is present in ”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs”. The young couple is seen on the right side of the flower bouquet, facing each other and expressing immediate tenderness and love. From the moment they fell for each other, Marc Chagall and Bella experienced a spectacular romance and seemed to share a common way of seeing the world. Chagall strongly believed their bond would be eternal and portrayed them together in most of his paintings throughout his life. Inspired by the light of the southern landscape, the wonderful colours seen in ”Le bonheur du jeune couple aux fleurs” are a celebration of life, joy and love.

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