About This Artwork

Marc Chagall
French, born Vitebsk, Russia (present-day Belarus), 1887–1985

Birth, 1911/12

Oil on canvas
44 5/8 x 76 7/8 in. (113.4 x 195.3 cm)
Signed, dated and inscribed, l.l.: "M. chagall/Paris/1911", inscribed l.c.: "Naissance"

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice E. Culberg, 1952.3

© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Many artists of the so-called School of Paris were of Eastern European and Jewish heritage, and many lived for a time in the ramshackle studio complex called La Ruche (The Hive). Marc Chagall, in fact, moved there in 1911 and lived near Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Léger. "In La Ruche," Chagall once said, "you either came out dead or famous." Liberated from the often-strict training of their homelands, these artists found vibrant artistic interchange and unparalleled exhibition opportunities. Chagall, for example, merged new, modern styles like Cubism, Expressionism, and Futurism with personal visions and native traditions. The results of this stimulating interchange can be seen in Birth.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Quai D’Orsay, Salon des independants, March 19–May 18, 1913, p. 61, no. 555, as La naissance, coupe de maison.

Berlin, Galerie Der Stürm, Sechcundzwanigste Ausstellung Marc Chagall, June 1914, no. 11, as Geburt II.

Berlin, Galerie Der Stürm, Sammlung Kluxen, August 1917, p. 2, cat. 8.

Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, Marc Chagall: Gemälde, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, October 1917, no. 18, as Geburt II.

Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, Marc Chagall, Kandinsky, William Wauer, July–August 1918, n.p., no. 3 as Geburt II.

Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, Zehn Jahre Sturm Gesamtschau, September 1921, p. 6, no. 25, as Geburt. 42.

Ausstellung der Berliner Secession, January–March 1922, as Die Geburt.Dresden, Internationale Kunst Ausstellung, June–September 1926, p. 55, no. 272 as Geburt.

Paris, Musée du Petit Palais, Les Maitres de l’art indépendant 1895–1937, June–October 1937, p. 84, no. 126, as La Naissance (1911).

Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Marc Chagall, Dec. 9, 1950–January 28, 1951, p. 12, no. 7, as Die Geburt.

Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Chagall, May 6–July 30, 1967, p. 21, fig. 5, no. 22, as Die Geburt.Cologne, Germany, Kunsthalle Köln, Marc Chagall: Werke aus sechs Jahrzehnten, September 2–October 31, 1967, pp. 17 (ill.), 26, no. 20, as Die Geburt.

Chicago, First National Bank, September 11–13, 1972.

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Chagall, January 11–March 31, 1985, pp. 73 (ill.), 166 (ill.), 167, no. 18; traveled to Philadelphia Museum of Art, May 12–July 7, 1985.

Tokyo, Nichido de Kasama Museum, Chagall, 1989–1990: Ibaraki, December 3, 1989–January 21, 1990, fig. 1.

Berne, Museum of Fine Arts Berne, Marc Chagall 1907–1917, December 16, 1995–February 28, 1996, p. 181 (ill.), no. 172; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, September 19, 1996–January 5, 1997.

Paris, Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Marc Chagall: Les années russes, 1907–1922, April 13–September 17, 1995, pp. 63 (ill.), 264, no. 28, as La naissance.

Philharmonie de Paris, Museé de la Musique, Marc Chagall: Le Triomphe de la musique, Oct. 13, 2015–Jan 31, 2016, cat. 290; Roubaix, Musée d'art et d'industrie André–Diligent, Oct. 24, 2015–Jan. 31, 2016, as Marc Chagall: Les Sources de la musique; Nice, Musée national Marc Chagall, Mar. 15–June 13, 2016, as Marc Chagall et la musique; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Jean-Noël Pavilion, Chagall: Colour and Music, Jan. 28–June 13, 2017; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 31, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018, as Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage, (Montreal only).

Publication History

Marc Chagall, Sturm-Bilderbücher I: Marc Chagall (Berlin, 1914), p. 14 (ill.), as Geburt II.

Abram Efross and J. Tugendhold, Die Kunst Marc Chagalls (Potsdam, Germany, 1921), pp. 34 (ill.), 77, as Geburt II.

Marc Chagall, Sturm-Bilderbücher I: Marc Chagall (Berlin, 1923), p. 14 (ill.), as Die Geburt II and Naissance II.

Sélection chronique de la vie artistique IV: Marc Chagall (Anvers, 1929) p. 70 (ill.), as L’accouchement.

Art News Annual 22 (1953), p. 198 (ill.).

Franz Meyer, Marc Chagall (London, 1964), pp. 105 (ill.), 126, 128–9, 139, as La naissance and The Birth.A.

James Speyer and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth-Century European Paintings (Chicago, 1980), p. 36, no. 1C12.

Aleksandre Kamensky, Chagall: The Russian Years 1907–1922 (New York, 1988), pp. 70–1, 80 (ill.), 78–9.F.

Igno Walther and Rainer Metzger, Marc Chagall: Painting as Poetry (Cologne, 1993), p. 28 (ill.).

Pierre Schneider, Chagall à travers le siècleˆ(Paris, 1995), pp. 39 (ill.), as La Naissance.Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Marc Chagall 1887–1985 (New York, 1998), p.55 (ill.), as The Birth.Monica Bohn-Duchen, Chagall (London, 1998), pp. 75–76 (ill.), no. 47.

Heinrich Mandel, Marc Chagall: Sein Werk in Zeugnissen der deutschsprachigen rezeption im 20. Jahrhundert Eine Dokumentation als Hommage, (Möhnesee, Germany, 2003), pp. 8–10, 19, 104.

Ambre Gauthier and Meret Meyer, Chagall et la musique, exh. cat. (Éditions Gallimard/Philharmonie de Paris/La Piscine–Roubaix, 2015), p. 229 (color ill.).

bre Gauthier and Meret Meyer, Chagall and Music, exh. cat. (Éditions Gallimard/Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/LACMA, 2017), pp. 257, cat. 290 (color ill.); 396.

Ownership History

Franz Kluxen, Boldixum and Bockenberg, Germany, by 1914–at least 1926 [Chagall, 1914 and Dresden, 1926]. Feigl Gallery, New York, late 1940s [letter from Mrs. Hugo Feigl, January 21, 1976, in curatorial file]; sold by the gallery to Niveau Gallery, New York, early 1950s [according to Mrs. Margoulis, Niveau Gallery, in letter from Stephen Hahn, May 10, 1975, in curatorial file]; sold by the gallery to Mr. and Mrs. Culberg, Chicago, November 1951; gift to Art Institute, 1952.

View mobile website