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Marc Chagall - Daphnis et Gnathon


Original lithograph, 1961, on Arches paper with no margins, from the unsigned and unnumbered edition

Size: 42 x 32 cm

References: Mourlot 343 ; Cramer: 46

Edition:   60 signed copies. There was also an unsigned and unnumbered edition with no margins

Notes: In the Mourlot Catalogue Raisonee the Daphne and Chloe Suite is described as the most important graphic series made by the artist. It was a combination of the quality and numbers of the pieces made that occasioned such a statement, The suite consisted of 42 different works which are all distinguished by their bright colours and splendid compositions.

It is set on the isle of Lesbos during the 2nd century AD, where and when scholars assume the author to have lived. Daphnis and Chloe resembles a modern novel which is remarkable more for its plot than for its characterisation.

Daphnis and Chloe is the story of a boy (Daphnis) and a girl (Chloe), each of whom is exposed at birth along with some identifying tokens. A goatherd named Lamon discovers Daphnis, and a shepherd called Dryas finds Chloe. Each decides to raise the child he finds as his own. Daphnis and Chloe grow up together, herding the flocks for their foster parents. They fall in love but, being naive, do not understand what is happening to them. Philetas, a wise old cowherd, explains to them what love is and tells them that the only cure is kissing[. They do this. Eventually, Lycaenion, a woman from the city, educates Daphnis in love-making. Daphnis, however, decides not to test his newly acquired skill on Chloe, because Lycaenion tells Daphnis that Chloe "will scream and cry and lie bleeding heavily [as if murdered].”

Throughout the book, Chloe is courted by suitors, two of whom (Dorcon and Lampis) attempt with varying degrees of success to abduct her. She is also carried off by raiders from a nearby city and saved by the intervention of the god Meanwhile, Daphnis falls into a pit, gets beaten up, is abducted by pirates, and is very nearly raped. In the end, Daphnis and Chloe are recognised by their birth parents, get married, and live out their lives in the country.

Printed by: Mourlot Freres, Paris, France

Published by : Tériade, Paris.