Marc Chagall's Bible prints could fetch $350,000 at Bonhams

Manuscript Man

Manuscript Man

2015-10-16 15:24:23

A stunning set of Marc Chagall prints described as amongst his "greatest works" will lead a Bonhams auction in San Francisco next week.

The Prints and Multiples sale will offer Chagall's La Bible – a complete set of 105 hand-coloured etchings, each initialled by the artist in pencil, depicting scenes from the five books of the Bible.

In 1931 Chagall was approached by the renowned French art dealer Ambrose Vollard, who presented him the project of illustrating the Bible. It then took Chagall the next 27 years to finish the task, with the final set of prints completed in 1958.

Such was Chagall's devotion to the project, and his insistence on adhering closely to the Biblical text, that he even travelled to Palestine to get a sense of the land. Just 100 sets of prints were ever produced, and the edition on offer at Bonhams - #69 – is expected to sell for $250,000-$350,000.

"Chagall was prepared for this achievement by his receptivity of mind," said noted art historian Meyer Schapiro. "He is a rare modern painter whose art has been accessible to the full range of his emotions and thoughts... He has represented themes of an older tradition not in a spirit of curiosity or artifice, but with a noble devotion."

"La Bible is a tour-de-force of printmaking by one of the greatest artists of the 20th century," said Bonhams' Director of Prints and Photographs Judith Eurich. "The estimate reflects not simply the rarity of the work but also its exceptional quality and emotional impact."

The Bonhams Prints and Multiples sale takes place in San Francisco on Tuesday October 20.


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