Marc Chagall conjured up his native Russia in the works he painted from 1910 to 1914 while he was living in the French capital. Similarly, in the small painting The Betrothed, he evoked his far-away fiancée Bella Rosenfeld, whom he would marry in 1915 upon his return to Vitebsk, Russia. The picture's palette of only blue and white is unusual within the artist's oeuvre, yet the brighter colors showing through the white paint suggest that Chagall reused an old canvas. Pierre Matisse, the son of artist Henri Matisse, had coveted the works of Chagall since 1924, when he first met the artist in Paris. Chagall was loath to part with his work, but in 1941 Pierre, who then owned an art gallery in New York, was able to mount an exhibition of Chagall's work that became a "blockbuster"; this was followed by sixteen more exhibitions at the gallery through 1982.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): M. Chagall 1911
the artist (1911–70; sold in October 1970 to Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1970–d. 1989; stock no. 8021); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Marc Chagall: A Celebration," May 17–June 11, 1977, not in catalogue.
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. "Marc Chagall," September 25–December 5, 1982, no. 10.
Humlebaek. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. "Marc Chagall," January 22–April 4, 1983, no. 10.
Saint Paul de Vence. Fondation Maeght. "Marc Chagall: Rétrospective de l'oeuvre peint," July 7–October 15, 1984, no. 7.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Chagall," January 11–March 31, 1985, no. 14.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Chagall," May 12–July 7, 1985, extended to July 21, 1985, no. 14.
San Francisco. Jewish Community Museum. "I and The Village: Early Works by Marc Chagall," January 11–March 30, 1988, no. 6.
Mexico City. Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo. "Chagall en Nuestro Siglo," October 10, 1991–January 26, 1992, no. 10.
Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Marc Chagall: Les années russes, 1907–1922," April 13–September 17, 1995, no. 61.