Music and theatre (1943-1966)

Throughout the war and his personal grief, art was Chagall's ultimate refuge from despair. His encounter with music and the commissions for the ballets Aleko by Rachmaninov and The Firebird by Stravinsky allowed him to express concretely his lifelong passion for music and theatre. After the Second World War, the monumental commissions for public works, frescoes, mosaics and stained glass windows, especially those for the ceiling of the Opéra Garnier in Paris and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, enabled him to explore new dimensions in painting with greater freedom.

  • The Triumph of Music. Preparatory drawing for the Metropolitan Opera mural, Lincoln Art Center, New York. Tempera, gouache and collage on paper, 1966. Private Collection

  • Definitive Study for the Ceiling of the Opéra Garnier, Paris. Gouache on paper on canvas, 1963. Private Collection

  • Winged Character. (Costume design for 'The Firebird' by Igor Stravinski.) Gouache, watercolour and ink on paper, 1945. Private Collection

  • Monster with Violet Mask. (Costume design for 'The Firebird' by Igor Stravinski.) Gouache, Indian ink and pencil on paper, 1945. Private Collection

  • Sketch for ‘Harlequin’. Collage of tissues and papers, gouache, coloured pencil and ink on lithographed paper, 1968-1971. Private Collection

  • Costume for a Clown ('Aleko' by Rachmaninov). Painted cotton and silk, 1942. Private Collection

  • Costume for Zemphira ('Aleko' by Rachmaninov). Silk, velvet and tulle, 1942. Private Collection