Marc Chagall was a modernist artist who worked with unique success in a range of mediums, including painting, ceramics, etching, drawing, theatre and costume design, and stained glass. He is associated with several major artistic styles, creating paintings that contain elements of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, but never adhere to just one style.


Born in Vitebsk, Belorussia, in 1887, to a large Hassidic family that was neither wealthy nor poor, the influence of his childhood is visible in works throughout Chagall’s career. The best-known, I and the Village (1911), has Vitebsk as its atmospheric backdrop. Chagall enjoyed drawing as a child, and went on to study painting in the studio of realist portrait painter Jehuda Pen. In 1907, he moved to St Petersburg to study at the Imperial Society for the Protection of Fine Arts for three years, and then studied with Léon Bakst at the Svanseva School. At this time we see the emergence of Chagall’s roof violinist motif in The Dead Man (1908). In My Fiancée with Black Gloves (1909), Chagall depicts his wife-to-be, Bella Rosenfeld, in his signature unrealistic, yet translatable, style.

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