In 1939 Marc and Bella are worried but do not yet perceive that the Nazis will manage to physically eradicate the French Jews. They remember Vitebsk where they married in 1916 and express their roots with their skills : Bella by her stories in Yiddish and Mark by his painting.
On May 15 in New York, Christie's sells Les Trois Cierges, oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm painted in 1939, lot 6 A estimated $ 8M.
As ever with Marc's surrealist style, the scenes are juxtaposed in various scales according to their importance conceived by the artist.
On the right side the levitating newlyweds are back to the happy time of Vitebsk. On the left, three tall candles are lit, marking the hope of the small family circle formed by Marc, Bella and their daughter Ida : the torments of the moment will be annihilated by melting in the wax. Secondary animation on the smaller scale includes flying angels, musicians and a view of the village.
In 1940 the persecution reached the whole French territory. Marc and Bella left France hurriedly. A few months later Ida and her husband joined them in the United States : in their crossing of the Atlantic that was made extremely dangerous by the war, they succeeded in transporting a large crate of artworks painted by Marc, including Les Trois Cierges which were thus saved from an inescapable destruction.
In the following year Les Trois Cierges is a major piece in the exhibition devoted to Chagall's art by Pierre Matisse in New York, one of the most important initiatives within this transitional period in which the Americans discover the European and Russian modern art.
SOLD for $ 14.6M including premium