French (born in Russia), 1887–1985
Flower Still Life, c. 1935
watercolour, gouache on paperboard on canvas
76.4 x 57.5 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Mr. Joseph Harris
This luminous still-life painting was produced in the mid-1930s when Chagall was living in Paris and working with several avant-garde artists as part of the École de Paris. Born in Vitebsk, Russia, Chagall studied in St. Petersburg before moving to Paris in 1910. In the WAG painting, a diaphanous bouquet of brilliant blue and pink flowers seems to float at the centre of the composition, illuminated by two full moons. A large bird occupies the lower-right corner along with two lovers embracing. Evoking an atmosphere of warmth, happiness, and rapturous pleasure, the painting celebrates the great love Chagall shared with his wife Bella who died at the age of 49, ten years after this work was created. Chagall would go back to Vitebsk (where he opened an art school in 1914), but later returned to Paris. He also spent six years in the United States in the 1940s.