Chagall (along with Max Ernst and many other fellow artists and intellectuals living in France at the beginning of World War II) was naively unaware of the dangers that lie ahead as Nazi Germany sought to eradicate all Jewish residents in France as well as all forms of art that did not fit the Nazi’s agenda of national realism. After the fall of France in June 1940 and the Nazi army establishing the Vichy regime, Chagall’s only escape opportunity was to seek asylum in the United States but he unfortunately did not have sufficient funds to leave France. Chagall and his family, along with 2,000 other artists and intellectuals , were part of a rescue operation to immigrate to the United States in 1941. Aside for designing the sets for ballets in New York and Mexico City in 1942, his artistic work lessened dramatically in the years to come in terms of production as he became distressed due to the Nazi’s destruction of his home town in Russia and the death of his wife Bella Rosenfeld in 1944. Once retuning to France after the war had ended, Chagall went on to produce some of his best work yet.
Chagall’s L’arche portee par David a Jerusalem is a prime example of the works produced during his late period when Chagall had returned to France after the aftermath of World War II. Chagall used yellow and cadmium red gouache paint with black India ink to create a scene depicting David in Jerusalem, represented by the figure to the left of the painting. Jewish motifs and stories are a recurring topic in Chagall’s work, specifically due to his Jewish upbringing in Russia as discrimination policies prohibited the mixing of different ethno cultural groups at the time. This gouache work is done on paper and the combination of colors and black India ink create a scene of varying dimensions as the color is placed underneath the black figurative drawings. This simplistic plane dimensionality differentiates the work from other paintings and gouaches as there are sections that remain unpainted in the work. The colors do not stray from the two original primary colors and the gouache resembles a print due to its simple composition.
Chagall’s work has been featured in many auctions in the past and has achieved great results throughout the years. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers has previously featured many of Chagall’s intricate and colorful lithographs ranging from $30,000 to $35,000, however this gouache work by Chagall is the most important. Marc Chagall’s L’arche portee par David a Jerusalem will be featured in the upcoming American and European art auction on Wednesday, May 25.