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The current Summer exhibits at the National Gallery of Canada is works of Marc Chagall, Daphnis and Chloé. These beautiful lithographs was given to the NGC by a generous Mécène, Felix Quinet in 1986.

Today, Chagall’s graphic collections stand as one of the greatest bodies of fine printmaking in the history of art. The works in this exhibition are part of a large donation made to the National Gallery by Félix Quinet in 1986. Quinet had inherited a collection of Chagall’s prints from his stepfather, Joseph Liverant, who had been an acquaintance of Chagall’s and collector of his work. In 1985, Quinet turned up at the Gallery’s former Elgin Street location to offer a gift of over 650 etchings and lithographs by Chagall, contained in 16 limited edition artist’s books that included The Bible, The Odyssey, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and La Fontaine’s Fables. Each book was embellished with an inscription and drawing by the artist.

Quinet’s extraordinary gift has since been the source of several popular exhibitions. It remains one of the most generous donations to the National Gallery’s Prints and Drawings Collection, and has made this museum the site of one of North America’s major collections of prints by Chagall.

Chagall’s work has that dream like feeling, beautiful colours and child like, almost naive quality. The set of lithographs titled Daphnis & Chloé is considered Chagall’s most important graphic work. Through fanciful compositions and bright hues, the artist illustrates the pastoral idylls of the goatherd Daphnis and the shepherdess Chloé on the island of Lesbos, as recounted in a second-century Greek Fable by Longus. These illustrations highlight Chagall’s unique style, setting him apart from the main 20th-century pictorial currents followed by some of his contemporaries, such as Matisse and Picasso. The exhibition presents, in chronological order, the entire series of 42 lithographs, as well as a title page adorned with a drawing by Chagall.

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As a compliment to this exhibit here is the Ballet Music composed by Maurice Ravel between 1909-1912 on the theme of Daphnis and Chloé, with the Montréal Symphony and Chorus under Charles Dutoit.

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