Marc Chagall

The Blue Circus


Not on display

Marc Chagall 1887–1985
Original title
Le Cirque bleu
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 349 × 267 mm
frame: 540 × 464 × 45 mm
Presented by the artist 1953

Display caption

Chagall drew inspiration from the theme of the circus throughout his life. As a child in Russia, he had been fascinated by the travelling acrobats he saw at village fairs. After he moved to Paris, Ambroise Vollard regularly accompanied him to the circus, where he would sit in the audience and sketch. The chaotic and colourful atmosphere of the circus captivated Chagall. Here, he saw all aspects of life represented, from the comic to the tragic. He later said, 'For me a circus is a magic show that appears and disappears like a world.' Circus performers, with their outlandish costumes and garish make-up, were ideal characters to populate Chagall's dream-like compostions.

Gallery label, April 1997

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Catalogue entry

Marc Chagall born 1887 [- 1985]

N06136 Le Cirque bleu (The Blue Circus) 1950

Inscribed 'Marc Chagall' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 13 3/4 x 10 1/2 (35 x 27)
Presented by the artist in memory of Velona Pilcher 1953
Lit: Peterborough, 'London Day by Day' in Daily Telegraph, 12 April 1950, p.4

See the note on N06135.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.115, reproduced p.115

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