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Marc Chagall

Self-Portrait in front of Easel. 1914
oil on canvas, 72x47.

Biographical outlinel


i  House of Marc Chagall

i   Art Center of Marc Chagall

i   Marc and Bella

i Chagall's Vitebsk

i   Old  Vitebsk. Photo

i  Movie shooting about Chagall in Vitebsk

   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) 

Marc 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.


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