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Susan Compton

[Shagal, Mark (Zakharovich); Shagal, Moses]

(b Vitebsk [now Viciebsk], Belarus’, July 7, 1887; d Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, March 28, 1985).

French painter, draughtsman, printmaker, designer, sculptor, ceramicist, and writer of Belarusian birth. A prolific artist, Chagall excelled in the European tradition of subject painting and distinguished himself as an expressive colourist. His work is noted for its consistent use of folkloric imagery and its sweetness of colour, and it is characterized by a style that, although developed in the years before World War I, underwent little progression throughout his long career (see.g. I and the Village, 1911; New York, MOMA). Though he preferred to be known as a Belarusian artist, following his exile from the Soviet Union in 1923 he was recognized as a major figure of the Ecole de Paris, especially in the later 1920s and the 1930s. In his last years he was regarded as a leading artist in stained glass.

Chagall spent his childhood, admirably recorded in his autobiography, in a warm Hassidic family in Vitebsk [now Viciebsk], with frequent visits to his grandfather’s village home. He attended the traditional Jewish school but afterwards succeeded in entering the local Russian high school, where he excelled in geometry and drawing and determined to become an artist. At first he studied locally in the studio of ...