RUSART > History of Arts > Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall

(7 July 1887 - 28 March 1985)


"Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things that revolve around love."
"I adore the theater and I am a painter. I think the two are made for a marriage of love. I will give all my soul to prove this once more."
"I work in whatever medium likes me at the moment.

Marc Chagall , Moishe Shagal, was a Russian-French artist. Russian – because he was born and started his career in Russia, French – because France became his home for all life. He created a unique career in virtually every artistic medium, including paintings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and fine art prints. Influenced by Cubism and Expressionism, influenced Surrealism, but refused to be labelled as part of any one movement.

Marc Chagall was born in a poor Jewish family in Russia. His father worked in a fish factory and his mother ran a grocery store. In Russia at that time Jewish children were not allowed to attend regular Russian schools or universities due to policies of discrimination. Their movement within the city was also restricted. Chagall therefore received his primary education at the local Jewish religious school, where he studied Hebrew and the Bible.

Chagall left Vitebsk to work and study in St. Petersburg in 1908. He spent his student days at Vitebsk and at the Petersburg Academy under Leon Bakst, who pointed out Cezanne, van Gogh and Gaugin to him.

In 1909 Chagall met Bella Rosenfeld, his love and future wife. But in 1910 with the help of his art patron, Vivaner, Chagall moved to Paris to work in the city that was the Mecca of the arts, leaving Russia and Bella behind.

Returning to Russia in 1914 he showed twenty five paintings at the official Moscow Exhibition and became friends with several great Russian poets. In 1914, before the outbreak of World War I, Chagall held a one-man show in Berlin, exhibiting work dominated by Jewish images. During the war, he resided in Russia, and in 1917, endorsing the revolution, he was appointed Commissar for Fine Arts in Vitebsk and then director of the newly established Free Academy of Art.

He married Bella in 1915 and his painting reflects his happiness from the marriage in such famous paintings as The Birthday, Double Portrait with Wine Glass, and Over the Town. He moved to Moscow in 1920 and then back to Paris in 1923 after a nine year stay in Russia. After a period of further hardship, Chagall began to receive more commissions and by 1930 his name was known worldwide.

In 1922, Chagall left Russia, settling in France one year later. He lived there permanently except for World War II, when he resided in the United States. Chagall's horror over the Nazi rise to power is expressed in works depicting Jewish martyrs and refugees. In addition to images of the Jewish world, Chagall's paintings are inspired by themes from the Bible. His fascination with the Bible culminated in a series of over 100 etchings illustrating the Bible, many of which incorporate elements from folklore and from religious life in Russia. Bella died suddenly, just before the end of the war and Chagall was overcome with grief. In 1947 Chagall returned to France and made his home in Vence.

Israel, which Chagall first visited in 1931 for the opening of the Tel Aviv Art Museum, is likewise endowed with some of Chagall's work, most notably the twelve stained glass windows at Hadassah Hospital and wall decorations at the Knesset.

In 1962 he was commissioned to create 12 stained-glass windows for the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. It was a major masterpiece and he said of it, “I felt my father and my mother were looking over my shoulder, and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews of yesterday and a thousand years ago.“

In 1964 he completed a canvas that covers the ceiling of the Opera in Paris, and two very large murals now in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He created the American Windows in 1977 for the Chicago Art Institute. Marc Chagall died in 1985 and was buried in France at Saint-Paul.

(Source: Wikipedia,,

The Violinist
oil on canvas, 1911-14, 94.5x69.5cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf

The Walk
oil on canvas, 1917, 170x164cm
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

The White Crucifixion
oil on canvas, 1938

I and the Village
oil on canvas

Le Cirque
oil on canvas, 1967

The Sun Over Paris
oil on canvas, 92x73cm
Georges Pompidou Museum, Paris

Couple on red background
oil on canvas, 1983

Les Amoureux
Ink on paper

The Village by Night
oil on canvas, 1950

oil on canvas, 1911, 86.7x108cm

oil on canvas

Le Juif Rouge
oil on canvas

oil on canvas, 1966

oil on canvas

Jew at Prayer
oil on canvas

oil on canvas

Adam and Eve are Banished from Paradise
Lithograph, 1960

Roof by Marc Chagall

Angel Leading Elijah

Jacob's Departure For Egypt
Etching, watercolours

The Birthday
oil on canvas, 1915

The America Windows
Glass, 1977
Art Institute of Chicago, USA

Moses and the Burning Bush
oil on canvas, 1960-66

Le Cirque
oil on canvas, 1967

Gouache on paper, 1916, 32x40cm
private collection

Newspaper Seller
oil on canvas, 1914

3 Windows
Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel

Windows in the Fraumunster

oil on canvas


The Burning Bush
Etching, watercolours, 1958

Small Bouquet of Lilies

Magic Flight

lithograph, 1968

Acrobat with Bird

The Reading

Le Lion s'eu allaut eu guerre
(from Les Fables de la Fontaine series)
etching with watercolours

Message Biblique
1960-1966, 237x233cm


L'ange au chandelier
Lithograph in colours, 1973

Le clocher d'Orgival
Gouache and pastel, 1978, 80x58cm

Circus Rider On Horse
lithograph, 1970

Message Biblique

Village au Cheval Vert ou Vision a la Lune Noire

La Tour Eiffel a l'ane
Lithograph in colours, 1954, 38x28cm

Lithograph in colours, 38x28cm

Paris Through the Window
oil on canvas, 1913

The Wedding
oil on canvas

oil on canvas, 1910

The Jugger
oil on canvas, 1943

The Blue House
oil on canvas, 1917

The Wedding Candles
oil on canvas, 1910

Naomi and her daughters-in-law
Lithograph, 1960

Ruth Gleaning
Lithograph, 1960

Ruth and Boaz meet
Lithograph, 1960

Ruth at the feet of Boaz
Lithograph, 1960

Boaz wakes and sees Ruth at his feet
Lithograph, 1960

oil on canvas

Bella with a White Collar
oil on canvas, 1917

The Blue Lovers
oil on canvas, 1914

Lithograph, 1958-59

Job Prays
Lithograph, 1960

Le Manteau De Noe
Hand-coloured etching

L'Onction Du Roi Salomon
Hand-coloured etching, 1931-56

The Revolution
oil on canvas, 1937, 50x100cm

The Soldier Drinks
oil on canvas, 1911-12
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Magic Flute
color lithograph, 1967, 99.7x64.1cm

color lithograph, 1966, 100.48x64.92cm

Good Morning Over Paris
color lithograph, 1952, 52.7x40cm

Couple at Dusk
color lithograph, 1980, 94x59.4cm

The Holy Family
color lithograph, 1970, 65x50cm

Le Cantique des Cantiques
color lithograph, 1975, 52x43cm

Bonjour Paris
color lithograph, 1972, 62.7x48.3cm

Basket of Fruit and Pineapples
color lithograph, 1964, 66.5x50cm

Roses and Mimosa from Nice & the Cote d'Azur
color lithograph, 1967, 61x45cm

The Rooster Over Paris
color lithograph, 1958, 59x44.5cm

Le Cheval Rouge (The Red Horse)
color lithograph, 1954, 53.34x43.82

The Acrobats
color lithograph, 1984, 61x48cm

The Angel of Judgment
color lithograph, 1974, 51.8x43.2cm

The Tribe of Naphtali, from The Twelve Maquettes of Stained Glass Windows for Jerusalem
color lithograph, 1964, 61x46cm

Odyssey II – Ulysses and Euryclea
color lithograph, 1975, 39.37x30.48cm

Aaron and the Seven-Branched Candlestick from Exodus
color lithograph, 1966, 43x33.5cm

The Train Crossed the Red Sea from Exodus
color lithograph, 1966, 47.9x33.3cm

Tamar Daughter-in-Law of Judah from The Bible
color lithograph, 1956, 35.6x26.7cm

Self-Portrait with Palette
oil on canvas, 1917
private collection

To Russia, Asses and Others
oil on canvas, 1911, 157x122cm
Paris, Musee national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

The village
color lithograph, 1977, 38x56cm

Bay of Nice
color lithograph, 1967, 76x54cm

oil on canvas

Monsters, Chimeras and Hybrids
oil on canvas

The Small Parlor
Oil on paper mounted on fabric, 1908, 22.5x29cm
Private collection, France

The Dead Man
Oil on canvas, 1908, 68.2x87cm
Musee National d'Art Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

View from Window. Vitebsk
Gouache on cardboard, 49x36.3cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The Butcher (Old man)
Gouache on paper, 1910, 34x24 cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The Sabbath
Oil on canvas, 1910, 90.5x194.5cm
Colon, Ludwig Museum

The Market Place. Vitebsk
Oil on canvas

Russian Village Under the Moon
Oil on canvas, 1911, 126x104cm
Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Germany

The Village Shop
Gouache on paper, 1911, 34x24 cm
Private collection, Basle, Switzerland

The Temptation (Adam and Eve)
Oil on canvas, 1910, 160.5x114cm
Saint Louis Art Museum, USA

The Baby's Bath
Tempera on paper fixed on cardboard, 53x44cm
Pskov Art and History Museum, Russia

The Burning House
Oil on canvas, 1913, 107.2x120.5cm
Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA

Uncle Zussi (The Barber Shop)
Oil and gouache on paper, 1914, 349.3x37.2cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Uncle's Shop in Liozno
Oil on paper fixed on cardboard, 37x49cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Over Vitebsk
Oil, gouache, pencil and ink on paper, 1914, 31x39cm
Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA

The Clock
Oil and gouache on paper, 1914, 49x37cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Soldiers with Bread
Watercolor and gouache on cardboard, 1914-15, 50.5x37.5cm
Private collection, St.Petersburg, Russia

Visit to My Grandparents
Watercolor, pen, ink and pencil on paper, 1915, 46.3x62.5cm
Private collection, Basle, Switzerland

Window in the Summer Cottage. Zaolshye near Vitebsk
Gouache and oil on canvas, 1915
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard, 1916, 45x59cm
Private collection, Paris

The Cemetery Gates
Oil on canvas, 1917, 87x68.5cm
Musee National d'Art Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Summer-House Window
Tempera on paper fixed on cardboard, 1917, 46.5x61cm
I.Brodsky Memorial Museum, St.Petersburg, Russia

Self- Portrait with Muse
Oil on canvas, 1917-18, 157x140cm
Private collection, St.Petersburg, Russia

Dance (Panel for Moscow Jewish Theatre)
Tempera, gouache and kaolin on canvas, 1920, 216x81.3cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Drama (Panel for Moscow Jewish Theatre)
Tempera, gouache and kaolin on canvas, 1920, 216x81.3cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Literature (Panel for Moscow Jewish Theatre)
Tempera, gouache and kaolin on canvas, 1920, 216x81.3cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Music (Panel for Moscow Jewish Theatre)e
Tempera, gouache and kaolin on canvas, 1920, 216x81.3cm
The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

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