Sept. 23: Chagall’s Paris Opera ceiling was unveiled on this day in 1964


(Photo credit: Vincent Marqueton, aka vincen-t on Flickr)

(Photo credit: Doug Smit, Flickr)

Painter Marc Chagall unveiled his stunning contribution to the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, on this day 49 years ago: a colorful circular fresco on the ceiling.

The drama that accompanied its unveiling was equal to its surroundings. According to a contemporary account from the New York Times: "The great crystal chandelier that hangs from the center of the ceiling was unlit as the audience entered, keeping the painting in the shadows. Then, after a festive procession of the entire corps de ballet to the the front of the stage, the chandelier and other ceiling lights burst aglow and the circular dome came to life with the intense color of its new crown."

The contrast between the Beaux-Arts style of the opera house and the modernism of Chagall is, we think, quite stunning -- but the ceiling remains controversial to this day as "completely out of harmony" with the Palais Garnier.

(Photo credit: Veronique Mergaux, Flickr)

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