Marc Chagall

In the Land of the Gods: And you wove for your tender neck seductive garlands of ravishing flowers (6/75), 1967
lithograph on arches paper
28.75 x 18.50 in

In the early 1950s, Marc Chagall (born 1887, Belarus) accepted the suggestion of his Greek publisher friend Teriade (real name Stratis Eleftheriadis) to illustrate a new edition of the second-century AD pastoral prose romance Daphnis and Chloe, attributed to Longus, and set on the Greek island of Lesbos, where the young shepherd and shepherdess fall in love. To get a feel for the country and its history and mythology, Chagall made two trips there, in 1952 ·and 1954. He also visited a wider range of tourist destinations, including Athens and Olympia. The Jewish artist was bowled over by what he described as "the land of the gods" - a country where every monument transports the visitor back several thousand years, yet with affinities to the ambience of the French Riviera, where he had made his home in Saint-Paul de Vence. What followed were series of illustrations, not only for Daphnis and Chloe, but also Homer's Odyssey and Sappho's poetry, and paintings, gouaches, ceramics and large-scale mosaics (for the faculty of law in Nice), and set and costume designs for the Paris Opera. Hellenic culture became mixed in with Chagall's Jewish m􀁙tifs and Old Testament illustrations and remained a prominent influence on his work until his death in 1985. – Anna McNay