Chagall and His Murals

July 11th, 2016

When planning the Met’s inaugural season at Lincoln Center, General Manager Rudolf Bing commissioned Marc Chagall to design the sets and costumes for a new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, directed by Günther Rennert. Later, as the new building was taking shape, the architectural team realized that the Met’s arched glass façade would provide a perfect display case for the lobby walls facing Lincoln Center Plaza, which originally were supposed to be painted a uniform color. Bing quickly asked Chagall if he would be willing to create two original artworks to fit the space. Despite his busy schedule, the French painter agreed—the results were his two famed murals, The Triumph of Music and The Sources of Music. Incidentally, when they were installed, workers got the paintings mixed up and unintentionally switched their positions. Chagall, undeterred, decided he liked the reversed arrangement better, and to this day, the murals have remained one of the Met’s most recognizable and beloved features, with Triumph on the left (or South) side (pictured here with the artist standing in front of it) and Sources on the right.