MARC CHAGALL FROM VITEBSK TO SAINT-PAUL DE VENCE
Marc Chagall travelled the world his whole life long. Exile and exploration took him from the banks of the divna to the shores of the mediterranean, from the western wall in jerusalem to the ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence.
Marc Chagall was born in Vitebsk, in Belarus in July, 7th 1887 into a traditional Jewish family. His father worked in a herring depot and his mother ran a modest grocery store.
In 1907, Marc Chagall moved to Saint- Petersburg, where he enrolled in several academies before working in the studio of Léon Bakst. In 1910 he made his first trip to Paris. Marc Chagall was granted French citizenship in 1937.
During WWII, he and his family went into exile in the United States.In 1948, Chagall returned to Paris before moving to the French Riviera in 1949.
From Vence to Saint-Paul de Vence…
In 1949, Chagall bought a house in Vence close to the Matisse chapel. At the time, the French Riviera was an incredible « art center » frequented by many artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Magnelli, Léger. In 1962, Chagall decorated one of the chapels of the Notre Dame de la Nativité cathedral. He made a colourful mosaic featuring Moses saved from the waters.
From the end of the 1950’s, he participated to the project of creation of the Maeght Foundation that opened in 1964 in Saint-Paul de Vence.
In Saint-Paul de Vence…
It was in 1966 that Marc and Bella Chagall settled in a house they had had built in Saint-Paul de Vence’s countryside. It’s name was “La Colline”, and it is situated at Chemin des Gardettes (private property nowdays). That house was especially conceived for work : eventhough Chagall was almost 80, he was very in demand and regularly commissioned : the stained-glass windows for the Reims cathedral (Champagne, France), tapestries for the Knesset in Jerusalem, stained-glass windows for the Art Intitute of Chicago. He also fashioned ceramics at the Madoura Studio in Vallauris… In Saint-Paul de Vence, you could see Marc Chagall at the Colombe d’Or or at the Café de la Place, with his friends. Among them, Aimé et Marguerite Maeght who were Chagall’s neighbours. The works of Marc Chagall occupy a huge place in the collection of the Maeght Fondation: “The lovers” in the garden and “La vie”, a monumental painting.
As part of the artist’s route « Live the French Riviera as a work of art », three reproductions of paintings by Chagall are dotted along chemin Sainte-Claire and the roundabout des Trious where the artist used to like to stroll.
You can also have a look at the mosaic (visible from the terraced garden in front of the school) “Le fleuve vert” (“The green river”) which stands on the wall of the nursery school. It was made in 1986, a few months after Marc Chagall’s death, from an original lithograph of the artist. Chagall, who loved children, featured the smiling face of a child, symbol of joyfulness.
Marc Chagall passed away in March, 28th, 1985. He rests in the cemetery of Saint-Paul de Vence, overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
Marc Chagall in Saint-Paul de Vence
Inaugurated in 1973 when Marc Chagall was alive, the Musée National Marc Chagall features the 17 paintings of the Biblical Message donated to the French State. The museum’s collection includes also a monumental mosaic and stained-glass windows featuring the Creation of the world. The museum hosts the richest collection of Marc Chagall’s works of religious and spiritual inspiration.Visit the Marc Chagall museum in Nice
MARINE ROSTAGNIHoliday stay advisor & tour guide
With a guide of the Tourist Office, discover the Mediterranean and Saint-Paul de Vence years of Marc Chagall. Through an evocation of his life, his artistic work and his grave at the village’s cemetery.Tour on booking
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