Lives of the Artists IX

Marc and Ida Chagall. (1946). © Lotte Jacobi Collection, University of New Hampshire, USA

Jackie Wullschlager writes:

By 1950, Picasso and Matisse’s relations were, according to one observer, “roughly those of one crowned head with another”, but neither could be friends on anything like equal terms with anyone else. In Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s, Chagall had given them and most other artists a wide berth; … It was characteristic of his instability, his mix of ambition and victim complex in the early 1950s, when he was emotionally vulnerable, that he now took up residence between Picasso and Matisse only to smart with anxiety and envy. Ida [his daughter, an acclaimed beauty and a bundle of energy], meanwhile, was busy seducing both old men. Chagall was at once jealous and proud that she had posed for a series of drawings by Matisse, while at a lunch with Picasso – a sumptuous Russian meal which she prepared herself – at Tériade’s, “she put on all her charm for Pablo, and told him how much his work meant to her … She was rather well set up, with curves everywhere, and she hung over Pablo almost adoringly,” according to Françoise Gilot. “By the time she was finished, Pablo was in the palm of her hand, and he began telling her how much he liked Chagall.”

From Chagall: Love and Exile, Penguin, 2010.


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