Marc Chagall, French (born Russia), 1887 - 1985
Oil, watercolor, and gouache on cardboardDimensions:
Sheet: 19 1/4 x 14 7/8 inches (48.9 x 37.8 cm)Copyright:
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Prints, Drawings, and PhotographsObject Location:
Currently not on viewAccession Number:
Gift of Mary Katharine Woodworth in memory of Allegra Woodworth, 1986
Made in Vitebsk shortly after the outbreak of World War I, this grim, expressive painting comes from a series that marks Chagall’s most direct commentary on contemporary global events. In sickly green and brown hues, a pallid infantryman supports his injured arm in a sling, while behind him three disoriented compatriots stumble along, possibly as a result of exposure to chemical gas warfare. As Vitebsk was a growing city with a major railway station, Chagall would have witnessed firsthand the troop movements of the Imperial Russian Army heading to and from the nearby Eastern Front.
Probably Bernard Davis, La France Art Institute, Philadelphia, by 1934 ; sale, La France Art Institute collection, Samuel T. Freeman & Co., Philadelphia, March 31-April 1, 1937, lot 95 (as "Soldiers"). Allegra Woodworth (d. 1974) and Mary Katharine Woodworth (d. 1988), Bryn Mawr and Haverford, PA, by 1950 ; gift of Mary Katharine Woodworth to PMA, 1986.
1. Davis lent a work by Chagall entitled "Soldiers" to the PMA exhibition of his collection, March 17-April 18, 1934 (described as a gouache). This work later appeared in the Davis (La France) collection sale in 1937, described as "tempera, 14 x 19 inches, signed upper right." Davis' ownership is not confirmed; however, as Franz Meyer's 1967 Chagall catalogue lists only one painting of this subject having these dimensions and signed on the upper right (the PMA work), most likely Davis' painting was the one purchased by the Woodworths.
2. The Misses Woodworth lent the painting to the PMA's exhibition "Masterpieces from Philadelphia Private Collections, Part II", May 20-September 15, 1950 (exhibited as "War", 1914, gouache, no. 164). They may have acquired the painting from the 1937 Freeman's sale. Chagall is listed as the owner in the Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibition, 1959; however, this must be an error (in addition, some of the exhibition references for this entry actually pertain to a similar painting entitled "Les Soldats" included in the Hamburg version of the exhibition, 1959, cat. no. 54). Mary K. Woodworth owned another Chagall painting, "The Violinist With the World Upside Down" (1929), which she purchased from a Paris dealer, A. Barreiro, in 1938 (see Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 1989, p. E-1). According to the exhibition catalog "Marc Chagall: Les années russes, 1907-1922," Paris, 1995, no. 119, "Wounded Soldier" was formerly in the collection of the artist.