Marc Chagall, 1887-1985

Driving the Cow. The Dead Souls - No 19. Les Ames Mortes no 19.

Circa 1927

Original etching in black ink. 1925-27. Signed (twice) in pencil, dated ‘Paris 1925’ and dedicated: à  A. Robinson amicalement (A. Robinson in friendship). (See full provenance below). An exceptionally rare hand-printed and signed proof impression, possibly unique. The unsigned edition for the ‘Ames Mortes - Dead Souls‘ series, illustrating the text by Gogol, was printed by Louis Fort in 1927. This proof is before any steel-facing on the plate and predates the issue edition by 2 years. No other such proofs are recorded anywhere.
Note: Signed twice and with further only partly legible pencil notes by Chagall regarding the proofing and paper on the reverse.
See:  Cramer - Chagall Illustrated Books no 17, plate 19. The Artist and the Book, Boston Museum of Fine Arts 1961, no 50
Provenance: Gift from Chagall to the noted American collector and art patron A. Robinson in Paris in 1925. In the 1920’s Robinson met there the Australian painter Mary Cockburn-Mercer.  They became partners moving together in the late 1920’s to Cassis and the South of France, and held salons attended by many leading painters including Chagall, Marcoussis, Dufresne etc., and built up a large collection. Cockburn-Mercer returned to Australia without Robinson in 1938 returning to France in 1952 after the War to take back what was left of the collection after their house had been occupied by the Germans and following the death of Robinson. Amongst the works still stored there was this proof etching by Chagall. She gifted it to her Australian friends the Schlichts.
Thence by descent to the Schlichts son Justin. Acquired by us from Justin Schlicht.

Superb rich proof impression before facing of the plate. On cream MBM wove paper. Paper with some slight traces of handling etc for the proofing. Sheet outer edges with very minor knocks and repairs. Full sheet margins. Plate: 275 x 214mm. Sheet size: 376 x 281mm.

 

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