Artwork by Marc Chagall,  Hyménée from Daphnis and Chloé (Cramer 46, Mourlot 349)

Marc Chagall
Hyménée from Daphnis and Chloé (Cramer 46, Mourlot 349)

colour lithograph
signed and numbered 56/60 within the lower margin; Published by Tériade, Paris
21 x 29.5 ins ( 53.3 x 74.9 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $18,000.00$12,000.00 - $18,000.00

Price Realized $18,000.00
Sale date: June 24th 2021

Private Collection, Toronto
One of the world’s preeminent pioneers of modernism, Marc Chagall worked in a wide range of artistic formats, including painting, stained glass, ceramics, book illustrations and tapestries. In 1952, the French publisher Tériade reached out to Chagall to propose creating a series of lithographs based on the Greek poet Longus’ retelling of the love story of Daphnis and Chloé. Tériade’s timing proved to be opportune, as Chagall’s recent marriage to his second wife, Valentina Brodsky, had him in a romantic mindset. He was touched by the Longus’ romantic, semi-erotic tale of love conquering all, and happily took on the project. The story of Daphnis and Chloé recounts the journey of two soulmates who begin life as orphans raised by farmers on the Greek Isle of Lesbos. As they mature, Daphnis and Chloé fall in love, but struggle to understand their new romantic feelings.

Chagall spent the following nine years creating 42 colour lithographs illustrating the famous love story, using his honeymoon locations in Greece as inspiration. Working together with master printer Charles Sorlier, Chagall’s intricate and vivid lithographs were printed in Paris between 1957 and 1960. The Daphnis and Chloé suite was officially released in 1961 and is seen as the most important graphic works of Chagall’s career. For every illustration, he used up to 25 colours — each requiring separate printing.

Chagall’s illustrations are vibrant and full of activity; the characters are surrounded by flowers, animals, and mythological figures, amid meadows, mountains, and seas. Hyménée is the last scene in the lithograph series, marking the end of Daphnis and Chloé’s journey to be together. The two lovers are finally able to lay together, as a crowd of people celebrate from a distance.

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Marc Chagall
(1887 - 1985)

Marc Chagall was a a painter, lithographer, etcher and designer, born on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Russia. He studied in Saint Petersburg and later with Léon Bakst. He moved to Paris in 1910, where he was introduced to Fauvism and Cubism while associating with Guillaume Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, Amedeo Modigliani and André Lhote. In 1912 he participated in the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. His first solo exhibition was held in 1914 at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin.

Chagall visited Russia in the same year and, due to the outbreak of war, was prevented from returning to Paris. He settled in the province of Vitebsk, where he was appointed Commissar for Art in 1918 and founded the Vitebsk Popular Art School. After moving to Moscow, he executed his first murals for the State Jewish Chamber Theater. Following a brief stay in Berlin, he returned to Paris in 1923, where he met the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard. Chagall had his first retrospective in 1924 at the Galerie Barbazanges-Hodebert.

Along with other artists, such as Max Ernst and André Breton, Chagall fled France for the United States during World War II. The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a retrospective of his paintings and graphic works in 1946. Despite settling permanently in France in 1948, the large-scale commissions he received led him to travel extensively across Europe in the following years. Among these were windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, a ceiling for the Paris Opéra, a memorial window for the United Nations headquarters in New York and windows for the cathedral in Metz, France.

In 1973 the Musée Chagall was opened in Nice to house his Message Biblique (Biblical Message, 1956–1966), consisting of seventeen canvases on biblical themes. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1985, the same year that Chagall died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France.