In 1948, four years after the death of Bella, Chagall was haunted by the theme of lost love. Solicited by Pantheon Books in New York, he designed his first color lithographic images, entitled Four tales from the Arabian Nights. The great series published by Tériade such as Daphnis et Chloé and le Cirque are later.
Chagall had been deeply moved by the translation of the Arabian Nights edited by Richard Burton in 1884. Explorer of Africa, Burton was one of the best connoisseurs of worldwide erotic traditions and made also published in 1883 a translation of the Kama Sutra. Considered in his time as a pornographer, he braved the Victorian England.
The Four tales series consisted of twelve plates 37 x 28 cm on 43 x 33 cm sheets. Each image is accompanied by a quote from Burton on a separate sheet. The editor had the nice idea to disperse the proofs and clichés within some copies of this edition.
On October 28 in New York, Bonhams sells one of these copies, lot 48 estimated $ 300K, with original wrappers and slipcases. In addition to the 12 images of the final version, this set includes 23 proofs, most of them for plates 5 and 9 as well as for an additional plate numbered 13.