Early Marc Chagall painting heading for Sotheby’s

A rare early Marc Chagall painting could set a new artist record at Sotheby’s next month. 

Chagall painted "Les Amoureux" in France in 1928.

Marc Chagall painting

Marc Chagall was the most important Jewish artist of the 20th century 

Born to a Jewish family in Belarus (then part of the Russian empire), Chagall (1887-1985) spent much of his life attempting to avoid the injustices heaped on Europe’s Jewish population.

While he was a well known figure in Russia by the outbreak of the first world war, it would be another decade before he achieved recognition in the west.

Simon Shaw, co-head of Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art department, told Artnet: “It’s very rare that we see major Chagall works from the teens, 20s, and 30s,”

“[He] was very prolific, so we see a lot of material on the market. But most of that is from the later years...

“This is a moment in the 1920s when Chagall settled back in France for a second time after the Russian Revolution.

“Not only was he very happy on a personal level, but this is really where he makes his career. He signs an exclusive gallery arrangement and has solo shows for the first time. He’s really successful for the first time in his career.”

The canvas is valued at $12m-18m ahead of the November 17 sale, which primes it to exceed Chagall’s $14.8m record – set for Anniversaire (1923) in 1990.

Chagall’s career spanned most of the 20th century. He’s considered one of the most important European modernists, but despite this he’s never achieved values comparable with contemporaries Picasso or Matisse.  

That could be about to change, however, as collectors find themselves priced out of those bigger names.

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