This week's #MuseumMonday features a 1913-14 canvas by Marc Chagall which was sold by the gallery twice in the 1970s. Today this painting belongs to the @metmuseum, where it is currently on view.
Marc Chagall met his wife and muse, Bella Rosenfeld, in their Russian hometown of Vitebsk in 1909. The artist was 22, and Bella, a talented writer, only 14, but for Chagall, it was love at first sight: “Her silence is mine. Her eyes, mine. I feel she has known me always, my childhood, my present life, my future.” It was this type of mystic love that Chagall portrayed in countless canvases of himself and Bella over the course of his career. In "The Lovers" (1913-14), begun during the period in which the approach of World War I separated Chagall from his future wife, we see a pair of nearly translucent, geometric figures reclining in an abstracted interior. The fiery red of a Russian sunset pours its light over the passionate lovers. Molded by Chagall’s thin, gentle hands, Bella’s blue and white body assumes the swirling motion of a night sky; for Chagall, Bella contained the world. The scene is edged in a deep black, contributing to our sense of magical, aestheticized vertigo; in "The Lovers," we see Chagall painting the spellbinding beauty of a lifelong romance, the dreamlike sensation of falling in love again and again.
Marc Chagall (1887-1985), "The Lovers," 1913-14
Oil on canvas
43 x 53 inches (109 x 135 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
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