When Mark Chagall returned to France in 1949 after a lengthy stay in the United States, forced upon him by World War II, he eagerly engaged in his favorite biblical motifs, tirelessly working to develop and update the rich artistic language that he began to formulate in the late 1920s, when exposed to surrealism, and to fill his work with fantasy and dream motifs.
Chagall’s famous surrealist – symbolic – naïve style has become captivating and even more engaging and brash than before. One of the motifs that stood out in Chagall’s work towards the end of the 1930s, before the Nazi conquest of Paris and his hasty departure to the United States, was “Jacob’s Dream,” the centerpiece of which is the motif: “Jacob’s Ladder.”
This magical, biblical story, based on our Torah: the portion “Exodus”, Genesis chapter 11-13, re-captures the prolific and rich imagination of the greatest Jewish artist of all time and has become a recurring theme in a dozen of his paintings and drawings, at least, created over his 40-year career as an artist from 1937 to 1977 when he was 90 years old.
Jacob, “our father who sits in the tents”, is about to leave his house to seek and find a bride in the crowd of his relatives in Charan, but it is, in fact, to escape the terror of his brother Esau’s revenge. The road was long and difficult for Jacob and on his way, he found himself in a foreign and unfamiliar place. He was exhausted and therefore gathered some stones, made them his pillow and fell asleep. In his dream, Jacob saw a ladder stretching from the earth to heaven and on the ladder ascending and descending, continually, the angels of God.
According to the Bible, in Jacob’s dream, God renews his covenant with Abraham and Isaac. He promises Jacob that his descendants will inherit the land after he himself has safely returned from his wanderings in various lands. Jacob wakens from his sleep and soon understands that “the place” is “the house of God” and the ladder where the angels of God ascend and descend, is “the gate of heaven”. The next day he builds a monument. It is constructed from the stones of “the place” and he vows that he will give a tenth of his property and assets to God – if and when – he returns home safely. He calls the place he was promised, where he lay down to sleep- Beit El.
This biblical, important, subject was painted by many masters, including Rembrandt (1644). But the dozen paintings of this subject by Chagall, during some 40 years of work (led by the painting called “Jacob’s Dream”, which adorns the museum located in Nice, in the French Riviera , named after him), are considered by art critics, a series of masterpieces whose historical value is invaluable.
Dr. Amir Geva.
Source: TIROCHE AUCTION HOUSE
* Price includes buyer’s premium