Marc Chagall - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 19, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private American Collection

  • Literature

    Fernand Mourlot 38
    see Patrick Cramer books 18

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chagall wanted his renderings of these evocative stories to match their beautiful literary descriptions and thus, he decided upon color lithography as the medium that would best translate these narratives to the printer’s press. The versatile printing technique of lithography would allow Chagall to seamlessly integrate his signature painting style of loose brushwork, deep colors, and rich layering of each color from separate plates to the world of his printmaking. However, it would take nearly 20 years for this series to come to fruition as it was not until he found asylum in the United States at the invitation of the Museum of Modern Art during World War II that he found the proper collaboration to illustrate the texts. The result was a portfolio of thirteen elaborate images entitled Four Tales from the Arabian Nights, published in 1948 by Jacques Schiffrin for Pantheon Books.

    In 1704, Antoine Galland, a French orientalist, published the first European translation of the tales of Arabian Nights and is accredited with their popularization across Europe and the further influence of Arabian stories on European fairytales. Marc Chagall first considered illustrating the tales of Arabian Nights in the 1920s at the suggestion of Ambroise Vollard, one of the most prominent art dealers and publishers of early twentieth century French art. Of the hundreds of stories, Chagall carefully chose only four to illustrate: The Ebony Horse, Julnar the Sea-Born and her Son King Badr Basim of Persia, Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman, and Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller’s Wife.

    The many tales of Arabian Nights explore themes of love and betrayal, destiny and adventure, fantasy and horror, all augmented by incredibly descriptive narratives that conjure up magnificent and colorful imagery. The tales revolve around the central story between King Shahryar, a scorned man intent on revenge, and Shahrazad, an imprisoned woman who shares a tale with the King each evening. After a thousand and one tales, King Shahryar falls in love with Shahrazad and makes her his queen.

    In all, Chagall created 12 different images illustrating the four tales. He printed them in editions of 90, 11 and 10. The edition of 10 was made special by Chagall to include a sheet of each different color printed on its own or in combination - probably to show how a multi-color lithograph is made and the amount of work involved to get to the final image. This lot contains impressions from the rare color progressive proofs which make up the final image. Lots 3, 4 and 5 are examples of the final signed and numbered, full color, states.

  • Artist Biography

    Marc Chagall

    Franco-Russian • 1887 - 1985

    Born Moishe Shagal in present-day Belarus, Marc Chagall (as he later became known) was one of the foremost Jewish artists of the 20th Century. He is perhaps best known for his inventive use of color and dream-like imagery, which anticipated Surrealism. His deeply religious upbringing influenced his work, as did the precarious political situation in Europe in the early 20th century. He first left the Russian Empire for France and Germany, but after returning to marry his wife, World War I prevented him from returning to France for over a decade. After the collapse of the French government during World War II, Chagall lived in New York until 1948. At that point, he returned permanently to France, which he considered his adopted homeland. 

    Chagall considered his style unique and actively resisted categorization. In Paris, he befriended Cubists like Robert Delaunay and Fernand Léger, but he also integrated elements of Fauvism and Symbolism into his practice. Aside from painting, Chagall also experimented with printmaking and stained glass--his windows can still be found in New York, France and Israel today. The artist passed away in 1985, and his work continues to be held in the permanent collections of many internationally prestigious museums.

    View More Works

134

Then he spent the night with her embracing and clipping...: plate 3, from Four Tales from the Arabian Nights: nine plates (M. 38, see C. bks 18)

1948
Nine lithographs, progressive color plate proofs, in colors, on Utopian laid paper, with full margins, all contained in the original wove paper with lithograph, folded (as issued).
all I. 11 x 14 1/2 in. (27.9 x 36.8 cm)
all S. 13 x 17 in. (33 x 43.2 cm)

Unsigned (as issued), printed to accompany the final state deluxe edition of 10 in Roman numerals (there was also a final state of 90 in Arabic numerals and 11 lettered A-K), published by Pantheon Books, New York, printed by Albert Carman, City Island, New York, all unframed.

Estimate
$1,500 - 2,500 

Sold for $2,520

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19 - 21 April 2022