"The soil that nourished the roots of my art was Vitebsk"
The eldest son of a herring plant labourer, Chagall (changed from Mark Zakharovich Shagal in 1910) began formally studying art as a teenager and was apprenticed as a photographer's re-toucher. After receiving an art scholarship, Chagall continued his studies in St. Petersburg and Paris, later becoming the director of a Free Academy of Art at Vitsybsk (now Belarus) and in 1919 the art director of the Moscow Jewish State Theatre. During this time he designed stage sets and costumes and painted murals for the lobby of the theatre, skills that he would utilise later in his career.
Between 1910 and 1914 Chagall's works mixed proto-Surrealism, Expressionism, and Cubism, although he refused to be labelled as a follower of any particular school.
In 1923 Chagall moved to Paris, where he was promptly commissioned by art dealer Ambroise Vollard to make etchings for an edition of Gogol's Dead Souls. Biblical themes characterised many of Chagall's works starting in 1931, after Chagall was again commissioned by Vollard to do etchings for an illustrated edition of the Old Testament. Hundreds of his biblical works are displayed at the National Museum of the Marc Chagall Biblical Message in Nice, France. In 1961 Chagall even designed a dozen stained-glass windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Centre near Jerusalem.
Many of his later works reflected his love of literature and the theatre and were done with watercolour or gouache, mediums that enhanced the poetic spontaneity prevalent in Chagall's work.
Chagall died in 1985, at the age of 98.
contributed by Gifford, Katya