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Marc Chagall A P ersonal J ourney in Art. (1887 – 1985) Painter, Stained Glass Artist , Muralist. Early Life. Marc Chagall was born as Moishe Shagal , near Vitebsk, in Belarus (Russia) in 1887. He was the oldest of nine children in an orthodox J ewish family.

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Marc chagall a p ersonal j ourney in art
Marc Chagall A Personal Journey in Art

(1887 – 1985)

Painter, Stained Glass Artist, Muralist


Early life
Early Life

  • Marc Chagall was born as MoisheShagal, near Vitebsk, in Belarus (Russia) in 1887.

  • He was the oldest of nine children in an orthodox Jewish family.

  • His family was very poor, and life in Russia was very hard.


  • Jewish people were discriminated against, and were not allowed to attend regular schools or universities.

  • His mother bribed a professor to get him into high school. There he noticed a fellow student drawing, something he had never seen done before. It opened up a whole new world for him.


The fiddler 1912

  • He decided he wanted to become an artist.

  • In 1906, he moved to St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia and its cultural and artistic centre

  • He enrolled in art school and began painting portraits and landscapes.

  • There he met Bella, the woman who would become his wife.

  • In 1910, he moved to Paris and learned about popular styles of painting. Although he was interested in what other artists were doing, he maintained his own distinctive style.

  • He became known for his beautiful use of colour and for his subject matter, which was a folk art style with images from his Russian, Jewish childhood.

The Fiddler (1912)


I and the village 1911

  • He continued painting Jewish motifs and memories of his home in Vitebsk

  • He developed a set of symbols which are repeated in his many paintings.

    • Ghostly figures floating in the sky

    • His wife, Bella

    • Giant fiddlers dancing on tiny dollhouses

    • The circus

    • Animals (like goats) doing human things.

I AND THE VILLAGE (1911)




  • Chagall wanted to return to Vitebsk to marry Bella.

  • He accepted an invitation to show his work at a gallery in Berlin, with a plan to combine the two trips.

  • While he was there, World War I broke out, and Russia closed its borders, trapping him.

  • Although he was stuck in Russia, with a war going on around him, he was very happy to have married Bella.

  • His paintings of this time are some of his happiest.

  • Nevertheless, Chagall witnessed some of the pogroms that happened and saw how his homeland was changing and how his people were suffering.

  • After the Russian Revolution of 1917, he returned to Paris,

Bella with white collar (1917)


  • Beginning in 1937, Adolf Hitler came to power in Berlin and started confiscating works of modern art from German museums.

  • Chagall was both a modern artist and a Jew, so he was unpopular in Germany.

  • He remained in France, not understanding the danger he was in, as World War II ripped Europe apart and Hitler terrorized Jewish people.

  • The New York Museum of Modern Art added his name to a list of prominent artists whose lives were in danger, and Chagall fled France for the United States in 1941, shortly before Germany invaded Russia.

Midsummer Night’s Dream (1939)


Wheatfield on a Summers Afternoon(1942)

Philadelphia Museum of Art, http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/82484.html


  • While started confiscating works of modern art from German museums. he was in America, he learned that the Germans had destroyed his beloved Vitebsk in Russia.

  • Only 118 people survived where the population had been 240,000.

  • In 1944, his wife Bella died and he stopped work for many months.

Three Candles (1938-40)


Cow with Parasol (1946) started confiscating works of modern art from German museums.


  • With World War II over, he returned to the started confiscating works of modern art from German museums. South of France.

  • He painted, made sculptures, ceramics, wall tiles, murals, stained glass windows, mosaics and tapestries.

La Mariee (1950)


The Concert (1957) started confiscating works of modern art from German museums.


  • In 1963 He painted the ceiling of the Paris Opera House. started confiscating works of modern art from German museums.

  • He was 77 years old. It took a year to complete the 2,400 square foot painting.

  • Critics felt it was wrong to have a foreigner doing the job, but when the work was finished, it was so beautiful that even his harshest critics loved it.

Paris Opera House ceiling (1963)


  • Chagall is famous for his work in stained glass. Colored glass was appealing to him because of his love of intense colors.

  • Because light shines through the colours, it has an added intensity that paint on a canvas can’t achieve.

  • He created stained glass for churches, synagogues, and as memorials.

  • The art institute of Chicago has a beautiful Chagall stained glass piece.

“Peace” created for the United Nations (1964)


Chagall also liked to create huge mosaic murals. glass was appealing to him because of his love of intense In 1974, he created “the Four Seasons”, a gift to the city of Chicago.


The Four Seasons (east) glass was appealing to him because of his love of intense

The Four Seasons (west)

The mural is 70 feet long and 14 feet high. You can see it today if you visit First National Plaza at Dearborn and Monroe Streets in Chicago.


  • Marc Chagall died on March 28, 1985 in Saint-Paul, France. glass was appealing to him because of his love of intense

  • He was 97 years old. A poor child from a place in Russia far removed from the art scene

  • He rose to great fame, making an enormous impact in the world of modern art.

  • His work used colour and a mixture of reality and fantasy to tell folk stories and explain his Russian/ Jewish heritage.

  • He lived through an extraordinary period of history, and spent his life painting the world he lived in.

His was a personal journey through art that depicted his cultural identity and images of Jewish life in Russia, even though his town and nearly all the people were destroyed.


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