Self-Portrait in front of
oil on canvas, 72x47.
During its millennium
history Vitebsk became a birth-place of a lot of outstanding people but
nobody glorified the town such as Marc Chagall. Only a quarter of his life
connected with Vitebsk but the years he spent here were decisive in his
character molding. (More)
They gave Marc Chagall rich, unforgettable impression and inspiration for
all his life.(More)
Chagall was born on July the 7th, 1887 in Vitebsk.(More)
His father was a salesman of herring. There were eight children in his
family, Marc Chagall was the first-born. He got his primary education at
cheder (Judaic primary school). In autumn, 1900 Marc Chagall went to the
town's four-year trade school. At the age of 17 he left this school. At
that time M. Chagall got greatly interested in painting. The famous Vitebsk
artist Juriy (Judel) Pen admitted the young man in his studio. Marc Chagall
attended the studio for only two months where he copied plaster heads and
ornaments according his teacher's instructions. Despite the short course
of studies he adored his teacher up to the last days of his life.
After his studies under J.Pen
's guidance Marc Chagall began to work as a retoucher But painting remained
the main thing in the life of this young man. He made sketches together
with J.Pen and in 1907 Marc Chagall went to St.Petersburg to continue his
studies. He tried to enter Baron Stiglits's School of Arts and Trades but
failed. Then he entered the school of the Arts Encouragement Society where
Nikolai Rerich was his teacher. Marc Chagall spent two years in this school.
Later he called those years lost without any benefit. In 1910 he began
to attend the Art School of Ekaterine Zvantseva. Leon Bakst and Mstislav
Dobuzinsky were his teachers there. But the famous Russian lawyer and public
figure Maxim Vinaker was the first to notice and singled out beginner-artist
Marc Chagall, and become its patron. In autumn 1910 he granted Marc Chagall
a monthly scholarship of 125 francs for his studies in France. Marc Chagall
moved in the famous Hive on Montparnasse in Paris. Already in May, 1914
the personal exhibition of Marc Shagall was organized in the Berlin gallery
. A month later he returned to Russia. On the 25th of July, 1915 Marc Chagall
married Bella (Berta) Rosenfeld, the daughter of a jeweller. Marc Chagall
loved his Bella ardently for 29 years of their life.
(More) She was not only a beloved
women, the mother of his daughter, the mistress of his home for him but
inspiration as well.
Returning to Russia in summer
1914 to marry Bella Marc Chagall couldn't get back to France because of
the beginning of the First World War. He was mobilized and served in Petrograd
(former St. Petersburg) in the Central Industry-Military Committee where
the brother of his wife was head of the department. The October Communist
Revolution of 1917 caught Marc Chagall in Petrograd. A post in the Culture
Ministry was offered to him but he preferred to return to Vitebsk. Marc
Chagall arrived at Vitebsk as an Art commissar of the Vitebsk region. The
main goal of Marc Chagall was the foundation of Art School in Vitebsk.
It was opened on the 28th of January, 1918 due to the great enthusiasm
and efforts of Marc Chagall. Mstislav Dobuzinsky, Marc Chagall 's teacher
in St. Petersburg, was the head of this Art School. Marc Chagall directed
one of the studios. But soon Mstislav Dobuzinsky returned to Petrograd
and Marc Chagall became the head of the school. All trends of painting
were represented in his school, Kasimir Malevitch who became the most popular
artist in Vitebsk was one of the lecturers. On the 29th of June, 1920 Marc
Chagall and his family left Vitebsk for Moscow. He had no suspicion that
he would never see his native town anymore.
At the end of May, 1921 the
artist went to Kaunas for his exhibition organization. In summer 1922 Marc
Chagall went from Kaunas to Berlin. There he got acquainted with a picture
gallery owner and publisher P. Kassirer who intended to publish Marc Chagall's
memoirs with the author's illustrations. But in 1923 Kassirer was able
to publish only illustrations as there were problems connected with the
translation of the memoirs into German. The complete publication of Marc
Chagall's memoirs was realized in 1931 by the Paris public-house . The
translation of the text into French was done by Bella Chagall.
For many years Marc Cagall
stayed in France. In 1941 he came to USA happily kept out of Nazi way.
When Marc Chagall learned that Vitebsk was completely ruined and lost nearly
all its population during the Second World War he published in one of US
newspapers. Vitebsk streets and squares, houses and lovers are present
in many pictures of Marc Chagall. In 1973, when he addressed a meeting
at his exhibition opening in the Tretjakov gallery in Moscow, he said,
During his long life (he
died at the age of 98) Marc Chagall experienced a lot of: failure and success,
poverty and richness, indifference and the world fame. But he was deprived
of only one thing - acknowledgment in his motherland. It caused him much
suffering. But times flies and in January, 1991 the first Marc Chagall
Festival took place in Vitebsk. In June, 1992 the monument to Marc Chagall
was erected in his native Pokrovskaja street and a memorial inscription
was done on the wall of his house. Marc Chagall plain-air and musical festivals
are held in Vitebsk annually as well.