The Meal At Dryas' House

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Marc Chagall

French, born Russia, 1887 - 1985

The Meal at Dryas' House, 1961

  • Not On View

Lithograph on paper

Dimensions: 21 1/4 × 29 7/8 in. (54 × 75.9 cm)
Image: 16 3/4 × 25 1/4 in. (42.5 × 64.1 cm)

Gift of Mrs. Aimee Mott Butler, 1980.30

Acting upon a suggestion that he illustrate the fable Daphnis and Chloe, Marc Chagall began his preparation by making two trips to Greece, visiting Athens, Delphi, Nauplis and Poros. Chagall fell in love with all aspects of the Greek landscape- its ancient sculpture, the radiant blue of the Mediterranean Sea, and especially the brilliant quality of the Greek light. With the assistance of the colorist Charles Sorlier, Chagall developed the rich blues and greens that evoked his vision of the Eden-like setting of the story. The Meal at Dryas' House is from a suite of forty-two lithographs that comprise Daphnis and Chloe, a work that is considered by many to be the greatest achievement of his graphic art. Set on the island of Lesbos, the pastoral story of the orphans, Daphnis, a goatherd and Chloe, a shepherdess, was written by Longus, an ancient Greek writer of whom little is known. The story traces the development of the couple's evolving romantic relationship, from child-like innocence to sexual maturity. The Meal at Dryas' House depicts Daphnis and Chloe (seated at the outer left and right sides of the table), sharing a meal with Chloe's adoptive parents; father Dryas, and mother Nape. On the lower left side of the print, Chagall ingeniously reinforces the lover's narrative by inserting a scene from an earlier stage in their budding romance. The old sage, Philetus (depicted with a walking stick) is instructing the couple in sensual courtship, while hovering above a tree in Philetus' orchard, Eros, with his bow readied, conspires to bring their love to fruition.

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