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The Smolensk Newspaper

Marc Chagall, French (born Russia), 1887 - 1985


Oil and graphite on paper, mounted on canvas

14 15/16 x 19 3/4 inches (37.9 x 50.2 cm)

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

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louis E. Stern Collection, 1963

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Chagall reacted to the outbreak of World War I in this celebrated painting, in which a copy of the Smolensk Herald with the headline “Voina” (War) rests on a table flanked by two seated men in a sparsely furnished room. The younger man in the bowler hat reacts to the newspaper headline with a mixture of terror and disbelief. He lifts his hat as if to mop a sweaty brow, a gesture that suggests his fear of being called up for military duty, while the older man pensively strokes his beard, perhaps reflecting on the various wars he has seen during his long life.


Louis E. Stern, New York, by 1948 [1]; bequest to PMA, 1963. 1. The painting is listed (as "War Across the Table") in an inventory of Stern's collection dated February 20, 1948 (registrar file). It is possible he acquired the work through Chagall, who was a personal friend.

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