Chagall was born to a poor Jewish family in what is now modern-day Belarus. His parents struggled to keep food on the table, but they managed to secure his education and were not wholly unsupportive of his early wish to become an artist. He studied in St. Petersburg and moved to Paris in 1910 to further develop his capabilities.
Acrobat with Violin, 1924
Chagall made his first attempts at etching to illustrate his autobiography, My Life, which he wrote in 1922 and 1923. Shortly thereafter, he was approached by Ambroise Vollard to create a series. Chagall suggested the text of Gogol’s Lost Souls as a theme. Vollard was pleased with these etchings and commissioned a second set in 1931 – this time, illustrations of the Old Testament. Chagall used the opportunity as an excuse to travel extensively through the Holy Land.
Figures and Flowers, 1953
Isaac Blessing Jacob, 1933
Self-Portrait with Grimace, 1924-25
Man with Hen, 1922
From 1941 to 1946, while WWII raged in Europe, Chagall sought refuge in the United States. His work took on more political significance. In the years following the war, he moved back to France and took on a number of large-scale public works – murals, stained glass windows, tapestries, etc. – which are now some of his best known pieces.