The Crucifixion

Marc Chagall, French (born Russia), 1887 - 1985


Oil on canvas

13 3/8 x 11 9/16inches (34 x 29.4cm) Framed: 19 1/2 x 18 x 2 inches (49.5 x 45.7 x 5.1 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White Collection, 1959

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During the late 1930s Marc Chagall became increasingly aware of the plight of his fellow Jews in Europe and embarked on a series of paintings and works on paper on the theme of the Crucifixion. In these heartfelt works, he altered some of the details associated with this Christian image to awaken the world to the perilous situation of Jewish people in the wake of Nazi persecution and murder. For this version, Chagall stressed Christ’s Jewish identity by replacing his traditional loincloth with a Jewish prayer shawl, while the rooster at his feet alludes to the sacrifices needed to save mankind.


Purchased from the artist by Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1943 or 1944 [1]; Samuel S. White, 3rd (1876-1952), Ardmore, PA, November 27, 1944 [2]; gift of Vera White (Mrs. Samuel S. White, 3rd) to PMA, 1959. 1. All of the Matisse Gallery's Chagalls in this period were obtained directly from the artist. Pierre Matisse became Chagall's American dealer in 1941 soon after Chagall's arrival in New York. The artist's work, packed in crates, had accompanied the Chagalls from Lisbon (see John Russell, Matisse: Father & Son, New York, 1999, p. 203; and Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Marc Chagall, 1887-1985, Cologne and New York, 1998, pp. 150, 155). The Matisse Gallery stockbook of purchases 1932-1947 records the purchase of two paintings entitled "Crucifixion" from Chagall, the first on June 25, 1943, and the second on December 22, 1944 (Pierre Matisse Gallery Archives, The Morgan Library, New York, Box 171, file 33). Presumably the first painting was the "Crucifixion" acquired by White, as the second transaction post-dates White's purchase. 2. Copy of dated Matisse Gallery receipt to White in curatorial file.