Chagall’s long career can be characterised as a ceaseless exploration of the founding themes of his artistic language. In his later years, the discovery of the light in the south of France – where he set up home – would give new life to his enduring inspirational sources. His paintings became larger and were typified by a return to a more forceful, lively and decisive palette. He combined densely textured hues with rich blacks that sometimes dominate the canvases, imposing a more sombre overall tone and recalling dramatic events that had left their stamp on his life.

Clock with Blue Wing 1949, for example, reflects the mystery and poetry that were central to Chagall’s personal history, while Red Rooftops 1953 sees the artist return to his roots as he watches over the mythical village of his childhood. War 1964–6 is a large-format reflection on the exodus, exile and death that marked the Jewish experience of the twentieth century. Chagall shared in these sufferings but strove always to retain hope in humanity.