Marc Chagall

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Marc Chagall, 1887-1985

Autoportrait avec un Chèvre. Self Portrait with a Goat. Berlin 1922.


Watercolour over lithograph. 1922. Signed in gouache paint. Also signed in pencil and inscribed in pencil as: ‘épreuve rehaussé’ - watercoloured. 

A unique and very important work which marks a moment of extreme significance in Chagall’s work and in his life. It was retained by Chagall himself for the whole of his life, passed on through his family, then a family friend and has never been offered on the public auction market. A Self Portrait dating from 1922, the year that Chagall finally left Russia and first settled in the west (initially in Berlin) in order to have artistic freedom away from the domination of the Russian state.

With a Certificate from the Chagall Committee.

Provenance: Marc Chagall - personal collection.

Gift from Chagall to Ida Chagall.

Gift from the Chagall family to a friend (1960’s).

Acquired privately from the friend by William Weston Gallery, 2004

Joe R. and Terry Long Collection. USA

Ref: Mourlot - Chagall Lithographs no 3. Conrad-Gauss: Chagall - The Lithographs no 3.

Note: It is this unique hand-coloured work which is listed and illustrated in the Mourlot and Gauss catalogues of Chagall’s graphic work. 

On Cream laid Van Gelder paper. Extremely fine condition; the watercolouring very fresh. Very faint trace of time discolouration in the outer sheet areas, not affecting the image. With the full margins as drawn. Sheet: 492x378mm. Image: 410x262mm.

Price: £50,000 (approx $70,000) (approx €57.000)

Only three impressions exist of the basic black lithograph underlying this work which is over-painted in watercolour. For this example which is unique, Chagall over-painted the sheet with brushwork in watercolour - the other two examples remained in black only (one is in the MOMA collection in New York, the other is lost). This work had a particular significance for Chagall and he kept it for over 40 years in his personal collection. See Provenance above. 

‘Self Portrait with a Goat’ was drawn by Chagall in 1922 the year that he finally decided to escape from Russia to free himself from the control on artistic expression exercised by the Russian State. In Berlin, where he first settled after his escape, he approached Paul Cassirer the owner of one of the most active avant-garde galleries in the city. Following encouragement and advice from Cassirer to concentrate on some prints which would possibly appeal to his clientele who admired the German Expressionist artists Chagall turned to lithography as a medium. He was hoping that he could find a source of income through working on prints, but he had little or no success. It is very interesting to note the clear influence on this image from the German Expressionist artists in whose Cassirer was dealing at that period – works by Schmidt Rottluf, Heckel and Kirchner for example.

The symbolic importance of this work to Chagall is shown by the fact that he retained it all of his life. It is an image which gives a deeply haunting insight into the roots of his art.


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