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Marc Chagall (Russia/France 1887‑1985)

”Les Campanules”

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 19-20 May 2021

Lot 636 Marc Chagall (Russia/France 1887‑1985). ”Les Campanules”. Signed Marc Chagall lower left. Gouache, tempera, pastel and pencil on paper, 72 x 57 cm.

Executed in 1976.
The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Comité Marc Chagall.
A photo certificate of authenticity issued by Comité Marc Chagall 4 October 2016 is included with this lot.


3.000.000 – 4.000.000 SEK
€ 296.000 – 395.000


Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Private Collection, acquired from the above ca. 1980.
Christie’s sale, 17 November 2016, lot 1066.
Opera Gallery, Monaco.
A Swedish Private Collection, acquired from the above.


Haus der Kunst, Munich, ”Marc Chagall, Ausgewählte Graphik”, 5 August-15 October 1978, p. 102, no. 67 (illustrated).

In context

Marc Chagall’s ”Les Campanules” – a radiant celebration of life

”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).

For Marc Chagall, nature played an important role in his oeuvre and this luminous still life from 1976 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 “Les Campanules”, Chagall lived and worked in a sun-drenched Vence in south of France together with his second wife Valentina “Vava” 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 “Les Campanules” 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.

In his later life, the floral still life came to dominate Chagall’s art. It was a theme he had explored many years prior, beginning when he returned 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). The radiant bouquet of blossoming flowers seen in “Les Campanules” is a magnificent rendering of the French landscape.

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 are present in “Les Campanules”. The couple is depicted on the left of the composition at the base of the windowsill, embracing each other with 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. The blossoming flowers fill almost the entirety of this work, standing by the window in a glass vase. The purple, green, blue and red form an explosion of blooms, a reminiscent of summer in its cheering luminosity. At the base of the vase is a small platter with a group of lemons and oranges, emphasising the largely painted flower bouquet, which is the central subject in this work. Inspired by the light of the southern landscape, the wonderful colours of the flowers are a celebration of life, joy and love.

Chagall’s Russian and Jewish heritages are at the very core of his work. 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.

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