Marc Chagall’s Les Amoureux (1928) became his most valuable painting when it sold at Sotheby’s last night.
It achieved $28.4m, almost double his previous record of $14.8m (set for Anniversaire in 1990).
Chagall painted this portrait of himself and his wife in Paris in 1928
Les Amoureux is a tender portrait of Chagall and his wife, Bella, his childhood sweetheart from his hometown of Vitebsk, Russia.
They were engaged in 1910 when Chagall left to study in Paris. He returned in 1914, expecting to stay for a few months, but was stymied by the outbreak of the first world war. In 1917, the Russian revolution and the ensuing civil war made travel impossible.
The couple managed to get out of the country in 1923 and went to Paris. This work was acquired from Chagall’s gallery in 1928 and has remained in the same family collection ever since.
The result represents a new level of recognition for Chagall from the art market.
It’s been a long time coming.
While he’s feted as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, demand for Chagall's work has lagged behind contemporaries like Picasso and Matisse.
But as major works from the Picasso-led top tier have moved beyond the reach of all but the ultra rich, we've seen a boost in demand for the second level of artists.
Picasso, a close friend until they fell out in 1964, said of Chagall: “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.
“...there’s never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has.”
We have this remarkable signed photograph of Picasso for sale.
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