Contemporary & Modern Print Exhibitions

Marc Chagall
Le Meunier, son Fils & lAne, 1927-30

Marc Chagall: The Early Etchings 
An exhibition of sixty-five (65) etchings  

         An exhibition of 65 early etchings by Marc Chagall produced in Paris for the art dealer Ambrose Vollard. The first commission from Vollard came in 1923. Chagall was asked to illustrate one of a series of etchings selected from a list provided to the artist; but it was Chagall's suggestion that he illustrate the work of the Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol entitled Les Ames Morts (The Dead Souls). [The novel was published in the nineteenth century under the heading The Adventures of Chichikov, to soften the title as a statement against serfdomism.] It was Chagall's desire to illustrate images that depicted what he knew best--Russian village life.                                       

"Come back, you're famous, Vollard is waiting for you."

--- Blaise Cendrars
[letter to Chagall in Berlin ca. 1922]


         Les Ames Morts (The Dead Souls) was Nikolai Gogol's masterpiece, and considered a classic tale of Russian literature. The series of plates were completed by Chagall in 1927 and delivered to Vollard who stored them in his cellar for the next twenty years, only to be published by Avec Tériade (Efstratios Eleftheriades) in 1948. Before the death of the nineteenth century French art dealer, Vollard gave Chagall a second commission in 1927, this time to illustrate Jean de La Fontaine's Fables. The commission caused some controversy among the French since Chagall (born Moshe Segal in Vitebsk, Russia) was not a Frenchman. The dealer defended his position by pointing out that the Fables were not uniquely French, in fact, they originated from antiquity in the writings of the Greeks and later among Latin poets before La Fontaine translated the verses into "children's stories."


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