Discovering Marc Chagall


I knew very little about Marc Chagall, although I could recognize his paintings by their very distinctive style, until my last visit to the library where I was happy to find the little book, Marc Chagall, Painter of Dreams, by Natalie S. Bober (a favorite author of mine).  He lived quite a life, this painter of dreams. He was born in Russia in 1887, and knew at a very young age that he wanted to be an artist.  He left his beloved homeland as a young adult to study and paint in St. Petersburg and then in Paris, returning to his village, Vitebsk, to marry the love of his life, Bella.


He was a deeply spiritual and religious man. From the Norton Art Museum web site:

He was raised as a Hassidic Jew, a sect which lays emphasis on dreams, holidays and joy. Chagall’s often joyous and humorous paintings frequently feature elements of Vitebsk’s skyline, folk rituals, occupations, pastimes, music and art. In combining classic Hassidic and folkloristic motifs with twentieth-century innovations, Chagall had the power of appealing to all people.


He lived a full life, which was both joyous and also full of hardship and tragedy. Many of his great paintings were lost or destroyed during World War II, but he continued creating art, in his later years expanding into beautiful painted ceramics, gorgeous stained glass, and brilliant set and costume design. He lived to be 97 years old.


Chagall’s paintings and other works are full of color, especially the color blue. His stained glass is particularly beautiful, and Bober stated that he used “stained glass to express his religious belief that light and color come from within.”  When Chagall was asked why the color blue was so prominent in his work, he answered, “Why blue? Because I am blue, just as Rembrandt was brown.”


This is another book I have read and thoroughly enjoyed for Sarah’s Art History Reading Challenge.

13 thoughts on “Discovering Marc Chagall

  1. Lois

    What a lovely post. Yes, I do like Natalie Bober. Several of her books I can’t part with. But I didn’t know about her biography of Marc Chagall and now must find it. I love the paintings you included. His colors are sensational.


  2. stacybuckeye

    I didn’t know anything about Chagall, except to somethimes recognize his art. I love stained glass and have admired his that I’ve seen. Wonderful post 🙂


  3. Kristen M.

    I need to start bringing some art books home. The Louvre just created an iPhone app that showcases much of the art there and Z was really interested by it. I would love to give him more exposure to a variety of artists. Even if he just glances at them and becomes familiar with the artists’ names, I would consider that a success!


  4. Robin Post author

    Thanks, Vasilly. It’s a quiet read, and short, but I found it very interesting.

    Thanks, Mom. Natalie Bober’s books have been something we’ve enjoyed together over the years!

    Thanks, Stacybuckeye! I love stained glass, too, and looking at photographs of his exquisite works was inspiring. I would LOVE to see them in person. Must make that happen!

    Thanks, Susan. I really didn’t know much about him, and although I liked most of what I saw of his work, I didn’t have any real understanding of it. I appreciate it so much more now.

    Bybee, I did notice the blue that Natalie Bober was wearing, and thought that perhaps her own love of blue was another reason she connected with and wrote about Chagall.

    Kristen M., our home was full of books about art and posters of famous paintings as I grew up. I know that’s a major reason I love art so much as an adult. I think it’s so important for children to make those early connections with art and artists!

    Jenclair, it was a quick read, and I so enjoyed learning more about Chagall.


  5. Kim

    You might like Dora Horn’s A WORLD TO COME which is a novel, but has a Chagall like character, I thought of him the entire time I was reading the book.


  6. Ingrid Soderberg

    Can you please tell me the name of the third painting down from the top of this page? I have it on a piece of art glass and I have looked for hours to try to find the name of it.
    Thank you.



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