Marc Chagall Arabian Nights Lithographs

"Four Tales from the Arabian Nights" is a series of lithographs Marc Chagall created based on Persian and Arabic fables presented in a volume titled the Arabian Nights. Along with being considered the finest example in this medium produced in the United States prior to 1950, this Arabian Nights series was awarded the graphic prize at the Venice Biennial in 1948. This series also represents Chagalls' very first attempt in color lithography.

"Four Tales from the Arabian Nights" illustrate various aspects of love, such as the separation of lovers and their reunion and the meaning of death. Marc Chagall himself had suffered the loss of his own much-loved wife shortly before executing these color Lithograph prints. Thus, the artist's involvement in this project held personal significance. Marc Chagall said of this series of lithographs that it was "unexpected, oriental, hovering between China and Europe," and that each image "possesses all the simplicity and uncomplicated magic of the tales themselves."

In 1941, after a stay in Gordes (in the Vaucluse Department of France), Marc Chagall left for the United States, at the invitation of the New York Museum of Modern Art. Among the many French friends who were there to welcome him was Jaques Schiffrin, who asked him to illustrate a book with colored lithographs. To help his friend, whose firm Pantheon Books, was publishing French authors, Chagall agreed to make lithographs to illustrate "Four Tales from the Arabian Nights".

The greater part of these volumes, of which only a 111 copies were printed, was "broken up" (that is to say, the lithographs were sold as separate plates). In consequence, this edition, which occupies an important place in the graphic work of this artist, is almost unknown. This work, the format of which is 16-7/8 x 13" is presented between card-boards that tie together with ribbons, under a printed cover that also serves as a title page. Each colored lithograph is contained in a separate folder, composed of four pages, on the first of which is a short text and a black and white illustration. The lithographs, which are 7 to 8 colors, were printed by Albert Carmen, City Island, New York.

In most of Chagall's graphic work, the images and colors were first conceived with gouache on paper. Moving to the stone, (from which he would later print his image), the artist would then attempt to recreate the textures, colors and images of his preliminary gouaches. Chagall chose to work this way because he enjoyed the challenge of recreating the image and effect of his original ideas through a different medium. He would employ whatever new or old techniques needed. Mark Chagall used an incredible range of blotching and smudging techniques as well as pointed stippling. His varied textures were achieved through use of different rollers and the layering of lacquer over the surface. Being a master at creating spatial illusions, he also manipulated line to enhance his images. He employed wavy, choppy, fluid or rigid lines, depending on the effect he desired. Like being lost in the middle of a strange wood, Marc Chagall would find his way to the clearing, never taking the same path or going in the same direction, and never really being lost.

If you are interested in buying, selling or consigning an original color lithograph from the Arabian Nights series made by Marc Chagall, please feel free to contact the Georgetown Frame Shoppe. We also carry original Marc chagall art, etchings, Lithographs, posters, etchings, and linocut prints from other Marc chagall suites such as the Odyssea, the Circus, Daphnis and Chloe, Drawings for the Bible and Illustrations for the Bible.


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