1887-1985 | Russian
Danseuse au double profil vert
(Dancer with double green profile)
Signed "Chagall" (Lower Right) and "Marc Chagall" en verso
Oil and tempera on canvas
“If all life moves inevitably towards its end, then we must, during our own, colour it with our colours of love and hope.” - Marc Chagall
Glowing with a vivid magenta hue, Marc Chagall’s Danseuse au double profil vert is a vibrant masterpiece and celebration of the towering artist’s prolific oeuvre. A bold composition, the painting’s overwhelming pink tones are accented by bright swathes of green, dots of red and shades of blue. Chagall’s works in these jewel tones — specifically those rendered in red and pink — strongly evoke the emotions of love the artist so fervently sought to portray and are among the most desired of his works by top museums and collectors.The work includes several of Chagall’s favorite motifs in a single canvas, celebrating the many influences in the artist’s multi-decade career. Painted in circa 1978, during the later yet extremely vital years of the artist’s life, the work is nearly biographical—telling the story of Chagall’s body of work and also the story of the exalted artist’s life. The work’s bold use of intense color firmly situates this painting in the remarkable later, yet extremely vital, years of the artist’s life.
In 1973, when Chagall finally traveled back to Russia more than 50 years after he fled, the emotional return inspired his brightest compositions. No longer a young artist, the 85-year-old Chagall had an enormous wealth of life experience. He had lived in cities across the globe, further engrossed himself in the world of music and dance as he created across multiple mediums, helplessly watched from afar as his childhood town of Vitebsk was razed during the German invasion, mourned the loss of his beloved first wife Bella and celebrated the joy of his new marriage to his second wife Valentina (“Vava”), all as he ascended as an artistic icon. During his visit, Chagall was honored with an exhibition in the capital, and perhaps more importantly to the artist, he reunited with some members of his family. Shortly after the trip was over, Chagall reflected on his journey, stating, “It did me good. It refreshed me for my work.”
The impact of this trip is clearly evident in the artist’s work as he began creating with vibrant colors that celebrated the joys of life. Themes of love and nostalgia permeated Chagall's gem-colored canvases of the 1970s. His creative output became increasingly personal and self-referential, illustrating how returning to his native Russia spurred deep reflections and conjured cherished memories.
Danseuse au double profil vert embodies this pivotal moment. The lower register of the painting features a familiar landscape of assorted rooftops that recall the artist’s birthplace in Vitebsk. Chagall renders his trademark young rooster in the middle register of the composition. He superimposes the faint figure of a man with his head bowed within the cockerel’s body, suggesting the young rooster as a possible representation of the artist himself as it straddles the plane between Chagall’s childhood home and the rising heavens. A large floating figure, another signature element in many of Chagall’s works typically characterized as a “flying lover,” representing the euphoria of love, looms above. Interestingly, Chagall’s flying lover figure bears not one countenance, but rather carries two visages enmeshed within a single body. This is perhaps a representation of both of Chagall’s beloved wives Bella and Valentina, suggesting an inextricable link in the love the artist felt for both of these women. This notion is further underscored by the bushel of flowers clutched in the flying figure’s hand, with art historian André Verdet noting “In his work bouquets of flowers held a special place... Usually, they created a sense of joy, but they could also reflect the melancholy of memories.”
All three figures — the praying man, the young rooster, and the flying woman — are rendered in profile with a sense of forward movement, symbolizing that life, with its many stages, its joys and tragedies, dreams and realities, moves inevitably onward. In Danseuse au double profil vert, Chagall continues his story, dreaming on in glorious color.
Canvas: 36 1/4" high by 28 3/4” wide
Frame: 39 3/8" high by 31 3/4” wide
Atelier Marc Chagall, Saint-Paul