In 1948 the artist is in New York. Pantheon Books invites him to illustrate the Arabian Nights. This portfolio is the best lithographic achievement in its time and the very first color engravings by Chagall.
Chagall prepared thirteen images which were printed in 37 x 28 cm size on loose individual sheets 43 x 33 cm (Mourlot 36-48). The first twelve illustrating four stories give the title of the regular portfolio (Four Tales from the Arabian Nights).
In addition to the regular edition of 90 numbered copies, a deluxe edition of 10 copies serialized in Roman numerals plus 11 copies out of commerce numbered from A to K are assembled. These 21 copies are complete of the thirteen images.
Chagall has thrown all his verve and his fantasy on this exotic theme : brilliant colors, fancy beings, languor of the lovers. The thirteenth image (Mourlot 48) is of course the most rare and also the most erotic. It illustrates the thread line of the 1001 episodes, when the king and Sheherazade are sleeping in their first night. In the imagination of the artist the couple tenderly embraced in full nudity is protected by a huge bird and by a benevolent mermaid.
On March 2 in New York, Swann sells the non commercial copy that had been kept by the publisher. This portfolio in a great freshness is complete of its thirteen color lithographs, texts, wrappers and slipcase. It is estimated $ 250K, lot 551.
SOLD for $ 270K including premium