WRITING ABOUT BELLA HIS WIFE AND MUSE
Autograph Letter Signed, one full page, quarto, New York, 1945. In Russian.
“She always spoke of you with affection. I always feel your sincerity. I will be happy to see you. I sent you a book. Modesty prevented me from getting in touch with you earlier. She was in art as she was in life with her transparency, style and plasticity together with her deep roots. Alsa, she did not see the book and did not hear anything but…Waiting for your response…” In a postscript Chagall writes, “You probably knew the family of the kin relative, brothers, sister and her husband Abr[am] Ginzbu[rg]. She left one more book and some papers.”
Written most likely about his first wife, Bella, who died suddenly on September 2, 1944, due to a virus infection which was not treated due to the wartime shortage of medicine.
The romance of Marc Chagall, a penniless apprentice of Leon Bakst, and Bella Rosenfeld, the daughter of a wealthy Vitebsk jeweler supposedly began the moment they laid eyes on each other and lasted for thirty-one years. She was the subject of many of his paintings including Bella with White Collar in 1917. Before their marriage, Chagall had difficulty convincing her parents that he would be a suitable husband; becoming a successful artist became a goal and an inspiration. When they finally married (in 1915), his euphoria was reflected in paintings of this time which show the young couple floating balloon-like over Vitebsk; they were the most light-hearted of his career.
When Bella died, Marc Chagall stopped all work for many months and when he did resume painting his first pictures were concerned with preserving her memory. Bella had been a writer and in 1946, Chagall oversaw the publication of her most famous book, The Burning Lights.
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