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Chichikov Shaves marc-chagall-tchitichikov-se-rase-gogol.jpg

Chichikov Shaves

Item Code: MC-17.86-u
Medium
Etching
Edition Size
368
Signed
Unsigned
Cat Rais No
Cramer 17/86
Width (cm)
21
Height (cm)
27.5
Date of Work
1948
Suite
Gogol's The Dead Souls
Base price $1,291
Includes free standard framing and UK delivery
In September 1923, emboldened by a letter received from his old friend the French poet Blaise Cendrars declaring ‘Come, you are famous here, and Vollard is waiting for you,’ Chagall left Berlin for Paris; a decision that was to have a profound affect on his future career. Vollard was indeed waiting for him with a commission to illustrate one of the deluxe livres de peinture that the dealer had a passion for. Chagall suggested Gogol’s Dead Souls, one of his and Bella’s favourite books and began work immediately.

The story follows the ignominious hero Chichikov’s epic journey across provincial Russia as he barters with bureaucrats and swindlers to buy up the names of dead serfs. It afforded him limitless scope for returning, in his imagination, to the rural Russia of his childhood and allowed him to tap into the ‘magic chaos’ that chimed with his own art and life.

The etchings for the Dead Souls were executed between 1923 and 1927 and printed in 1927 where they then lay in Vollard’s warehouse ‘sleeping their sweet sleep’ as Chagall put it. They were finally united with the text and published by Tériade in 1948 after Vollard’s untimely death.

The suite is a wonderful affirmation of the human spirit and life and all its contradictions or as Meyer so eloquently puts it: ‘This entire world of stupidity, malice, and selfishness is rendered transparent through humour…Everywhere, running through all the comical elements, and borne along by a sort of inner joyfulness, there appears the fantastic, rich, inexhaustible reality of Russian life.’
Marc Chagall portraitChagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia in 1887. After studying in St Petersburg he went to Paris where he befriended the avant-garde circle of artists. In 1917 he returned to his native Vitebsk where he was made Director and Commissar of Fine Art. However, his fantasy-based work irked the conservative authorities so he left for Moscow to design for the new Jewish Theatre.

Returning to Paris in 1923 he met the art-dealer Vollard for whom he illustrated Gogol’s Dead Souls and the Fables of La Fontaine. Between 1941-47 he moved between occupied France and the USA, eventually settling near Nice. Chagall was a prolific artist, his work reminiscent of Jewish life, bible stories and of the folklore from his early years in Russia. He died in 1985.
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