Marc Chagall, Nice and the Côte d’Azur Lithograph Series

Renowned for their magnificent coloration and fantastic imagery, the many series of Marc Chagall range across themes and sentiment. From his narrative renderings of Daphnis and Chloe and The Arabian Nights, to his emblematic interpretations of the Drawings for the Bible Series and the Windows for Jerusalem, Marc Chagall’s graphic works attract the attention of museums and galleries around the world. In this article, we will shine light on the virtues of one his most acclaimed, iconic, and colorful suites, Marc Chagall’s Nice and the Côte d’Azur series. Created towards the end of his career, this collection of twelve lithographs is brimming with the romance, enchantment, and beauty that define Marc Chagall as one of the most recognizable artists of the 20th Century.

Marc Chagall, Sirène et poisson (Sirene & Fish), from Nice & the Côte d’Azur, 1967

Nice and the Côte d’Azur (also known as the French Riviera) is located on the Mediterranean coastline in the south of France. The warm climate and vivid colors of Nice and the Côte d’Azur attracted many famous artists during the first half of the 20th century including Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse.

Nice and the Côte d’Azur captured the heart and imagination of Marc Chagall, who loved the beauty of the Mediterranean. It was in Nice that Chagall believed he was “born for the second time,” as Nice awoke within him a sense of well-being, plentitude, and freedom. He relished in the warm sun and clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean, and his whimsical imagery reflects the love that he held for Nice. It is for that reason that Chagall created the beautiful, whimsical and full of color Nice and the Côte d’Azur Lithograph series, here we observe Chagall’s romantic, fanciful imagery at its best- bountiful bouquets of flowers, soaring birds, gliding fish, dazzling seashores and sparkling cityscapes, embracing lovers, and sirens floating through the deep blue sky.

Printed by Charles Sorlier and published by Mourlot, Paris in 1967, Chagall’s Nice and the Cote d’Azur series is comprised of 12 color lithographs created to accompany text written by Jean Adhemar, Director of the Cabinet des Estampes at the Bibliotheque Nationale. Jean Adhemar states that in these works “one rediscovers the characters dear to Chagall: those lovers in the firmament, those men whom Malaparte saw walking on the roof of the storm, on the guttering of the clouds, the woman with the flowers and the Sirene, the most poignant symbol of Nice. There are also those visions, the memory of which pursued him from childhood, from his days in Vitebsk, which he called the invisible, supposedly illogical form of the object and which we came to perceive like him. Above all, there are the midday sun and the brilliancy of his flowers. They explain the richness of tones in these lithographs, the beauty and harmony of the colors, the deep blue, and somber vividness of the reds, the haunting garland of flowers.” Indeed, these lithographs remain some of the most stunning examples of color and imagery of Chagall’s entire artistic oeuvre.

Marc Chagall, Bataille de Fleurs (Carnaval of Flowers) from Nice and the Côte d’Azur, 1967

Marc Chagall lived in Saint-Paul de Vence, a medieval town on the French Riviera, from 1948 until his death in 1985. Today, the Musee Marc Chagall, also known as the National Museum or Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, is located in Nice in the Alpes-Maritimes near the Côte d’Azur. The museum was created during Chagall’s lifetime and remains dedicated to Chagall’s works of religious and spiritual inspiration.

Marc Chagall, Couple dans Mimosa (Couple in Mimosa), from Nice & the Côte d'Azur, 1967

Marc Chagall, Couple dans Mimosa (Couple in Mimosa), from Nice & the Côte d’Azur, 1967




•Sorlier, Charles. Chagall Lithographs, Vol. V 1974-79. New York: Crown Publishers, 1984.

•Distributed Art Publishers, Marc Chagall The Lithographs, La Collection Sorlier

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