Lines and planes converge at the center of this composition, the subject of which is the urbanization and modernization of the city of Paris. Chagall painted this picture in 1911, one year after he first saw the Eiffel Tower during his travels to Paris from Russia, his native country. The dynamic composition centers at the famous Parisian monument. A blood-red road leads the eye inward with a perspectival rush towards the focal point. Powerlines on the right create a sharp receding diagonal that are mirrored by the blue skyline on the left. Below, a brick-red wall creates a dynamic thrust into the painting and is interrupted on the left by the new Pont de Passy, above which travels the city’s new Métro line.
For all of its linear energy, Chagall intensifies the composition with consciously jarring juxtapositions of color. A painting about transportation, communication, and speed is met with a contradictory sense of timelessness suggested by the presence of a horse, Chagall’s personal imagery reminiscent of home.
Signature: Signed and dated (bottom center): Marc Chagall 1911
Dr. Felix Witzinger, Bottmingen (Basel Land), Switzerland; acquired from the Lock Galleries, New York, by Robert Lehman, New York, March 1966.