Chagall’s synagogues up for sale

Three rare Marc Chagall paintings featuring interiors of synagogues are to be auctioned at Sotheby’s, prompting huge interest for the Russian-rooted artist.

These works are coming to the art market for the first time ever from a descendent of the original owner of the works, Max Cottin, who bought them at a 1945 exhibition at the Gallery of Jewish Art in New York.

The artist is known to have finished only six synagogue paintings. Speaking about his Jewish identity, Marc Chagall declared, “If a painter is Jewish and paints life, how can he help having Jewish elements in his work? But if he is a good painter, there will be more than that. The Jewish element will be there, but his art will tend to approach the universal.”

Born in Vitebsk, today’s Belarus, Chagall remained in Russia until 1922, living between Vitebsk and Moscow. Synagogue interiors were however created later in 1930s.

His 1931 “Interior of the Yemenite HaGoral Synagogue, Jerusalem,” is becoming the top lot of the upcoming sale estimated to earn from US$400,000 to $600,000. The other two paintings – a 1931 signed Chagall and a 1935 work depicting the synagogue in Vilnius – are both valued at between $300,000 and $500,000.

The sale is part of Sotheby’s Israeli International Art auction scheduled for December 14.

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