Marc Chagall is a Jewish artist best known for his iconic dreamlike paintings recalling life in the shtetls of Russia before the First World War. His stained glass windows are displayed in Europe, Israel and the United States.
Marc Chagall is probably the most famous Jewish artist of the 20th Century. Born in 1887 in a shtetl near Vitebsk, Belarus, into a poor Hassidic family, Chagall as a young boy studied in a traditional religious school. Later when opportunities for Jews opened up he attended a newly established art school in Vitebsk. In 1907 Chagall went to study art in St Petersburg.
After three years, Marc Chagall moved to Paris where Cubism was the latest art form. Although Cubism didn’t suit his style which had a more ethereal dreamlike quality, France suited Chagall. In 1914, Chagall returned to Russia and became trapped by the start of the First World War. After getting married in 1915, he remained in Russia until 1923, caught up in the Russian Revolution. While in Russia, Chagall designed stage sets and murals for the new Moscow Jewish Theater.
Keeping Paris as his base, Chagall then traveled extensively around France and the rest of Europe. In 1931 he traveled Tel Aviv for the opening of its Art Museum. This inspired his drawings (105) for an illustrated edition of the Bible, eventually published in 1956. During the war years, (WW2) Marc Chagall and his wife, Bella Rosenfeld, escaped to the United States. Afterwards Chagall returned to live and work in France. He died in 1985, in Saint Paul de Vence, in Southern France.
Marc Chagall’s iconic images of shtetl life have a dreamlike quality and give a romanticized view of the past. His picture of ‘The Fiddler’ who is standing on a roof is one of his most well-known paintings while others show young couples or other figures floating in the sky with life continuing below.
Chagall worked in all media, from oils to gouache, watercolors to lithographs, using everything from paper to glass, on both a small and large scale.
 Set Designs
Apart from his designs for the Moscow Jewish Theater, Chagall also produced costumes and sets for the ballet ‘Aleko’ by Leonide Massine and Stravinsky’s ballet ‘Firebird’. These helped to consolidate Chagall’s reputation in the United States.
Marc Chagall’s painted several large murals for both the Paris Opera House and for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He also produced a large mosaic for a plaza in Chicago, along with mosaics and tapestries for the Israeli Parliament (Knesset).
 Stained Glass Windows
Chagall is probably best known for his stained glass windows. His first stained glass window, produced with glass maker Charles Marq was for a church in Assy in 1956. In 1960 he followed this with a window for the Cathedral in Metz. In 1962 he produced a set of twelve windows depicting the twelve tribes of Israel which were installed in the newly built synagogue for Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
His next window, called ‘Peace' was for the United Nations’ which Marc Chagall completed in 1964. In 1967 he dedicated a window to Rockefeller in a church in New York, while in 1974 he was commissioned to make a window for another cathedral in Rhiems. Marc also produced windows for other churches including a complete set of twelve windows for a church in England. In 1977 he produced his ‘America Windows’, installed in the Art Institute of Chicago, in commemoration of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution.
Marc Chagall’s work can be seen in museums around the world including the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall in Nice, and the Marc Chagall Museum in his old family house in Vitebsk, Belarus. Both prints and reproductions of his art are available from galleries and online.