Chagall's lithographs (1960), Bible Series
In 1931, art dealer Ambroise Vollard suggested to Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that he undertake a series of illustrations of the Bible. Chagall agreed and worked on these hand-colored etchings over a 25 year period until all 105 were completed and published by Teriade, successor to Vollard, in 1957.
In taking on the task of illustrating the Bible, Chagall undertook one of the most monumental printing projects ever attempted. The 105 plates were the largest number Chagall had done on a single subject. In addition, pictorially and dramatically, the works are more complex than those found in his previous sets of etchings. The illustrated scenes come from twelve books of the Bible and the majority depict scenes from Genesis and adhere closely to the Biblical text.
Chagall is one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century. He came from a large and devout Jewish family. Born in the small Russian town of Vitebsk, Chagall studied art in St. Petersburg and Paris. In 1923, Chagall fled the Soviet Union and settled in France where he began working with the Parisian art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard.
Chagall’s approach to the Bible is one that focuses on the intense encounters between God and humanity. Each image tells the story plainly and poignantly. Curator Jean Bloch Rosensaft, of the Jewish Museum in New York notes that the series “brings together the mature artist’s spirituality and childhood’s fantasy through the sophisticated artistry of the masterprintmaker.”