Marc Chagall, Jew in Black and White, 1914. Oil on cardboard laid down on canvas, 39 3/4 x 31 1/2 in. Im Obersteg Foundation, permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Marc Chagall’s three monumental portraits from 1914, Jew in Red, Jew in Black and White, and Jew in Green, are on view in Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland.
Born and raised by an observant Jewish family near Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus), Marc Chagall began his artistic training in St. Petersburg, then traveled to Paris, where he met artists who introduced him to Fauvism, Cubism, and other modern art movements. Chagall blended these trends with Russian and Jewish imagery and fantastical symbols drawn from childhood memories. During what was meant to be a short trip to visit family in 1914, the outbreak of World War I forced Chagall to remain in Russia. In Vitebsk, he painted portraits of beggars and itinerant Hasidic rabbis who were invited into his family’s home. Chagall described the sitter in Jew in Black and White as a beggar with “gray hair, sullen expression, a sack on his back.”
Chagall dressed him as a rabbi, placing his father’s tallit (prayer shawl) over the man’s shoulders and wrapping tefillins (used during morning prayer) around his head and left arm. His right hand holds the tzitzit (tassel of the prayer shawl). Jew in Black and White and Jew in Red were exhibited in Chagall’s 1933 retrospective at the Kunsthalle Basel, which collector Karl Im Obersteg, through his association with the artist, helped to organize. This painting is the first of two later versions in separate collections.
Rouge, blanc, rose…Phillips visitor Allison collects all varieties!
There are wine enthusiasts among us! Whether it be the beverage itself or its accouterments, visitors to Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland love to collect wine. They might agree with Picasso’s sentiment: “I’m like a drinker who needs wine. As long as it is wine, it doesn’t matter which wine.” Join our community collection with #PhillipsGoesSwiss!
Phillips visitor Mireille likes the accompanying hardware as much as the celebratory drink; she collects champagne, bottle caps, and corks.
“Everything wine!” says Doug B.
Red wine was a common collection item among exhibition visitors.
In the Collection Comparisons series, we pair one work from Gauguin to Picasso: Masterworks from Switzerland with a similar work from the Phillips’s own permanent collection.
(left) Georges Rouault, Landscape with Red Sail, 1939. Oil on paper laid down on gauze, 19 3/4 x 33 in. Im Obersteg Foundation, permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel. Photo © Mark Gisler, Müllheim. Image © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris (right) Georges Rouault, Afterglow, Galilee, before 1931. Oil on paper mounted on canvas, 19 3/4 x 25 5/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1939 © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
As Georges Rouault explained, “My real life is back in the age of the cathedrals,” a sentiment reflected in his art. After 1930, Rouault developed a new style in which he used the motifs of landscape and seascape to explore religious themes. In Landscape with Red Sail, atmospheric colors painted in thick tactile layers reveal a single boat at sea, perhaps on a spiritual journey. Painted at Rouault’s Paris studio on rue Martignac, this work was displayed with canvases by Chaïm Soutine, André Derain and Maurice Utrillo at Karl Im Obersteg’s residence.
Duncan Phillips also responded to Rouault’s religious landscapes. In 1939, he purchased a painting similar in style and motif, Afterglow, Galilee.