The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. has unveiled a permanent and public home for a glass and stone mosaic designed by Marc Chagall. ‘Orphée,’ which was donated to the museum by the late collector Evelyn Stefansson Nef, will reside in the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden.
The mosaic, which was a special gift from Chagall to Nef and her husband, John, spent over 40 years in the couple’s garden in Georgetown. The work was donated to the museum in 2009 as part of a major bequest of over 100 works from the Nef’s collection of 19th- and 20th-century artworks. Measuring around 10’ x 17’, the mosaic depicts various figures from Greek mythology.
The work was one of the first large-scale outdoor Chagall mosaics to be installed in the United States and during the spring of 2010, a team of conservators, curators, art handlers, designers and masons spent five weeks removing the mosaic from the Nef’s garden wall. Over the next three and a half years, conservators, gallery masons, designers and Italian mosaic experts cleaned the glass and stone, repaired the mosaic’s structural reinforcement, and painstakingly re-installed the work in the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden.