Marc Chagall - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips
  • In Daphnis et Chloé, Marc Chagall beautifully illustrated the timeless pastoral romance by the ancient Greek poet Longus. Since the artist’s first, and highly successful, attempt at color lithography in 1948 when he illustrated four tales from Arabian Nights, Chagall had continued to demonstrate his mastery of the medium and unparalleled talent of enhancing these evocative stories though large portfolios of vibrant imagery. The versatile printing technique of lithography allowed Chagall to seamlessly integrate his signature artistic style of loose brushwork, deep colors, and rich layering of color into the prints. As he built up texture and lush scenes on individually inked plates, Chagall transported this ancient story into the world of his printmaking.

     “I have always painted pictures where human love floods my colors.”
     —Marc Chagall


    The enchanting tale of Daphnis et Chloé recounts the romantic journey between two soulmates, the goatherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloe, set on the Greek Isle of Lesbos. The love story deals with themes of young love, innocence, and fate as well as the determination to overcome thrilling obstacles such as the interference of the Gods and an abduction at the hands of pirates. Ultimately, however, love conquers all and the two protagonists eventually marry and live out their idyllic country lives. The whimsical nature of the romantic adventure was magnificently interpretated throughout Chagall’s expressive and dream-like scenes.


     Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé album cover. Artwork: © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 

    In 1952, Tériade, a great friend to and supporter of the artist, commissioned Chagall to illustrate the Greek legend of Daphnis et Chloé. Tériade was one of the most significant art publishers of the 20th century, in addition to Chagall he commissioned and published work from artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, and he would eventually publish this series of lithographs. This series was not the first time Chagall had the opportunity to interpret the tale of Daphnis et Chloé. Three years earlier, the Paris Opera requested that Chagall design the sets and costumes for Ravel’s ballet of Daphnis et Chloé. The artist’s experience with the ballet clearly emerges in his fluid and elegant portrayal of the figures in his lithographs. Above all, Chagall was inspired by his extended honeymoon travels through Greece in 1952, producing pastel drawings and gouache paintings of his sun-soaked Mediterranean surroundings. Upon his return to Paris, Chagall used these preparatory studies to collaborate with renowned lithographer Fernand Mourlot and over the following nine years the pair produced the complete series of 42 lithographs that would become one of Chagall’s most significant illustrated books. 


    Marc and Valentina Chagall, Athens, 1952-1954Image: © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


    • Literature

      Fernand Mourlot 308
      see Patrick Cramer books 46


Frontispiece, from Daphnis et Chloé (M. 308, see C. bks 46)

Lithograph in colors, on Arches paper, with full margins.
I. 16 3/4 x 12 3/4 in. (42.5 x 32.4 cm)
S. 21 1/4 x 15 in. (54 x 38.1 cm)

Signed and numbered 17/60 in pencil (there was also an unsigned edition of 250 and 20 artist's proofs in Roman numerals), published by Tériade Editeur, Paris, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for $7,620

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023