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Indepth Arts News:

"Marc Chagall: The Early Etchings from the 1920s"
2005-07-16 until 2005-08-28
Appleton Museum of Art
Ocala, FL, USA United States of America

An exhibit 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 on 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 entitles Les Ames Morts (The Dead Souls). The novel was published in the 19th century under the heading The Adventures of Chichikov, to soften the tile as a statement against serfdomism. It was Chagall’s desire to illustrate images that depicted what he knew best – Russian village life.

Les Ames Morts 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 20 years, only to be published by Avec Tériade (Efstratios Eleftheriades) in 1948. Before the death of the 19th century French art dealer, Vollard gave Chagall a second commission in 1927, this time to illustrate Jean de Fontaine’s Fables. The commission caused some controversy among the French since Chagall 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 writing of the Greeks and later among Latin poets before La Fontaine translated the verses into “children’s storied.”


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