Stamped with the signature “Marc Chagall” (lower right corner)
Private collection, Europe
The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work
Après la Naissance prominently displays several themes that are characteristic to Chagall’s oeuvre and radiates with biographical significance. Returning to his hometown of Vitebsk in 1973 for the first time in over fifty years no doubt stirred strong emotions in Chagall, who spoke of the unusual circumstances surrounding his birth: “just at the moment of my birth in a little cottage near the road on the outskirts of Vitebsk, a great fire broke out behind a prison. The town was in flames” (Charles Sorlier, ed., Chagall by Chagall, New York, 1979, p.28). The energetic colour in Après la Naissance reveals the strong emotion the artist felt for his homeland. As Werner Haftmann of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin writes, “Chagall does not analyse objects, he analyses memories. [Chagall] has said, ‘my pictures are painted collections of inner images which possess me’” (Werner Haftmann, Marc Chagall, New York, 1972, p. 18). In the present work, Chagall’s collections of memories are articulated through some of his most cherished visual motifs. Chagall unites his trope of two lovers, the calf, the rooster, and the distant village in a single, vibrant composition. Pairs of lovers are featured throughout Chagall’s oeuvre and are among the most important and symbolic cast of characters that appear in his paintings. The calf and the rooster, placed against the backdrop of a small town, recall the Russian countryside and Chagall’s hometown of Vitebsk. The piece speaks to Chagall’s nostalgia for his hometown and provides a lively example of Chagall’s most well-known and beloved themes.