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Original lithograph in colours. 1960. Signed in pencil. Numbered from the hand-printed edition of 40. (There was also an unsigned machine-printed edition, in slightly trimmed format, for ‘Chagall Lithographs volume 1’). Drawn and printed at the studio of Mourlot, Paris 1960.
Reference: Mourlot – Chagall Lithographs, no 282.; Hatje – Chagall Lithographs, no 282.
Provenance: William Weston Gallery, 1991. Private Collection USA, 1991 to 2019.
Excellent impression with very strong colours. On pale cream Arches paper. Generally
excellent condition – very slightest traces of old mounting.
Full sheet: 475 x 321mm. Image: 318 x 250mm.
This ‘Self Portrait’ is one of Chagall’s most famous works in colour lithography from the early post-war period at the beginning of the 1960’s.
Chagall has shown his face wreathed in a broad smile. In his hand is a palette into which he has incorporated perhaps the unseen subject of the work in his mind – a nude, the figure herself
also with a painter’s palette. He is accompanied by that central symbol of his art, especially in the new peace of the beginning of the 60’s, the cow (suggesting all the requirements of good life – milk, food, hide and endurance). In the bottom corner is glimpsed a copy of his autobiography ‘Ma Vie, My Life, Mein Leben’ written in the 1920’s and wonderfully recounting the Russian period of his career. This is a work that radiates his pleasure in life itself.
In 1959/60 Chagall was working on a series of eleven lithographs to accompany the publication of a catalogue detailing all his earlier work in the medium of lithography. This ‘Autoportait’ –
‘Self Portrait’ was his choice to be the first image in the series. Chagall’s first work in lithography dated from 1922. Until 1941, when he managed to escape from the German and Vichy French incarceration of Jews, all his prints remained monochrome. He arrived in New York later in 1941 and was to remain there until 1950. During this period his interest in printmaking led to an introduction to the New York master art printer Albert Carman. It was from Carman that he learned the concept and execution of lithography in multi colours. In New York he drew the wonderful images of the ‘Tales of the Arabian Nights’.
However it was really after his return to Paris, and beginning to work at the exceptional lithography studio of Fernand Mourlot, that his enjoyment and genius in colour lithography
was to come to its full expression. It was to be a medium which gave him an especial pleasure throughout the rest of his life.