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Last updated: 6/23/2019
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / The Worlds of Marc Chagall / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Marc Chagall and the Bible: Etchings and Lithographs from 1930 to 1980

Our Chagall pages are arranged thematically and/or by series and illustrate over 200 different etchings and lithographs.
Clicking on the links will bring you to one or more pages on that subject.

Paris / Paris2 / The Village / The Circus / Circus 2 / Lovers / Lovers 2 / Music / Music 2
Flowers / Flowers 2 / Self Portraits / Self Portraits 2

Dead Souls (1923-27) / Dead Souls 2 / Dead Souls 3 / Dead Souls 4 / Dead Souls 5 / Maternité (1925-26) /
Fables of La Fontaine (1927-30) / Fables 2 De Mauvais Sujets (1958)/ / Et sur la terre (1977)

Chagall and the Bible
Etchings for the Bible (1930-39, 1952-56) / Bible Etchings 2 / Bible Etchings 3
1956 Verve Lithographs for the Bible / 1956 Bible Lithographs 2
1960 Verve Lithographs for Drawings for the Bible / 1960 Bible Lithographs 2 / 1960 Bible Lithographs 3
The Story of the Exodus (1966) / Exodus 2 / The Jerusalem Windows (1962) / Other Biblical Subjects

Chagall in black and white / Signed Chagall Etchings and Lithographs
Original Posters

Review, 12/10/03 Rhythm Section (an entertainment guide jointly produced by the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times)
One of the most beloved artists of the twentieth century, Chagall attempted to reshape the way we see and are seen. From his earliest paintings, depicting the ghettoized Russian Jews in their small villages not as prisoners but as free to explore the unknown world of their fantastic visions, to his last works, which meditate on the mysteries of love, artistic creation, and the joys of life, Chagall demonstrates the triumph of the imagination and celebrates its ability to free us from the constraints of daily life. Our 1999 show featured about 75 original etchings and lithographs dating from the early 1930s to those executed close to the end of his extremely long and productive life. For this show, we focused on Chagall’s long interest in the Bible, including etchings commissioned by Ambroise Vollard, who sent Chagall to Palestine in 1931 so that he could get a feel for the biblical landscapes he knew only from his reading and his imagination, two sets of color lithographs executed in 1956 and 1960 during the first period of his enthusiastic explorations of color lithography, seven pieces from his 1966 large-scale series, The Story of Exodus, and the series of twelve 20-color lithographs executed in collaboration with his master printer Charles Sorlier devoted to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the models for his stained glass windows for Jerusalem. Please see the appropriate pages to get a sample of our holdings in this area.

Chagall, who donated a museum, Le Message Biblique de Marc Chagall, to France, his adopted home, spoke about the meaning of his biblical art at the Jerusalem opening ceremony for his stained glass windows dedicated to the Twelve Tribes of Israel:
  • How is it that the air and earth of Vitebsk, my birthplace, and of thousands of years of exile, find themselves mingled in the air and earth of Jerusalem.

    How could I have thought that not only my hands with their colors would direct me in their work, but that the poor hands of my parents and of others and still others with their mute lips and their closed eyes, who gathered and whispered behind me, would direct me as if they also wished to take part in my life?

    I feel too, as though the tragic and heroic resistance movements, in the ghettos, and your war here in this country, are blended in my flowers and beasts and my fiery colors. . . .

    The more our age refuses to see the full face of the universe and restricts itself to the sight of a tiny fraction of its skin, the more anxious I become when I consider the universe in its eternal rhythm, and the more I wish to oppose the general current.

    Do I speak this because with the advance of life, the outlines surrounding us becomes clearer and the horizon appears in a more tragic glow?

    I feel as if colors and lines flow like tears from my eyes, though I do not weep. And do not think that I speak like this from weakness—on the contrary, as I advance in years the more certain I am of what I want, and the more certain I am of what I say.

    I know that the path of our life is eternal and short, and while still in my mother’s womb I learned to travel this path with love rather than with hate.

    These thoughts occurred to me many years ago when I first stepped on biblical ground preparing to create etchings for the Bible [1931]. And they emboldened me to bring my modest gift to the Jewish people which always dreamed of biblical love, of friendship and peace among all peoples; to that people which lived here thousands of years ago, among other Semitic peoples.

    My hope is that I hereby extend my hand to seekers of culture, to poets and to artists among the neighboring peoples. . . .

    I saw the hills of Sodom and the Negev, out of whose defiles appear the shadows of our prophets in their yellowish garments, the color of dry bread. I heard their ancient words. . . . Have they not truly and justly shown in their words how to behave on this earth and by what ideal to live?
  • Marc Chagall, "Remarks at the dedication of the Jerusalem Windows" (1962)
Our inventory includes 15 of Chagall's 1931-1939 etchings for the Bible, all (except the David and Bathsheba) of the 1956 Bible color lithographs, 20 of the 1960 Bible color lithographs, 9 of the large-format color lithographs forThe Story of the Exodus, and several Biblical works out of series. It also includes 10 of the 12 20-color lithographs executed by Charles Sorlier under Chagall's supervision from his final drawings for the 12 Tribes of Israel as portrayed in in the Jesursalem Windows.
Pour Vava plate 13: David plays for King Saul (Cramer 1992, n.142). Original tampon sec or scratch lithograph, 1984. This late work is part of a love note from Chagall to his wife, Vava (Valentina ). Edition: 10 signed and numbered impressions. Chagall coated a stone with black lithographic ink, scatched a drawing into the ink with a sharp-pointed stylus, laid the paper face-down upon the stone and rubbed the reverse until the ink transferred to the paper (see William M. Ivins, Jr. How Prints Look (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958, p. 17) This work was shown in Nice in a celebration of Chagall's long collaboration with Gerald Cramer (see Patrick Cramer, Marc Chagall–Gerald Cramer, Trente ans de travail et d'amitie [Geneve: Galerie patrick Cramer, 1994], p. 35, n. 142). Our impression is a signed artist's proof. Image size: 240x177mm. Price: $12,500.
Abraham mourning for the death of Sarah (Hanover 286, Sorlier 210). Original etching, 1931-39. 100 signed and numbered hand-colored proofs plus 295 black and white impressions signed in the plate, of which this is one. A brilliant impression in excellent condition of one of Chagall's most acclaimed etchings. Illustrated in Passeron, Chagall: Maitres de la gravure, Meyer, Chagall's Graphic Works, and Nice 1987. Image size: 293x240mm. Price: $5000.
Moses and Aaron before Pharoah (H. 305, S. 228). Original etching with extensive hand coloring, 1931-39. 100 signed and numbered hand-colored proofs plus 295 black and white impressions signed in the plate. Ours is a trial proof before the edition of the hand-colored etching. In this proof, most of the colors that will be used in the final version are present, but they are not applied in the same places. This is a one-of-a-kind work. Image size: 288x225mm. Price: $15,000.
God directs Moses to make vestments for use in the sanctuary (M. 465). Original color lithograph, 1966. 250 impressions on Arches for the deluxe portfolio, The Story of Exodus plus 20 on japon and 15 HC. Ours is an impression on Arches. Image size: 505x370mm. Price: $5250.
David with his harp (M. 133). Original color lithograph, 1956. 75 signed and numbered impressions plus 6500 unsigned impressions as ours. Illustrated in the catalogue for the 1973 Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall inauguration. Image size: 355x260mm. Price: $2850.
David Mourning Absalom (M. 134). Original color lithograph, 1956. 75 signed and numbered impressions plus 6500 unsigned impressions as ours. Illustrated in the catalogue for the 1973 Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall inauguration. Image size: 355x260mm. Price: $2850.
The tree of Jesse (M. 297). Original color lithograph, 1960. 100 signed & numbered impressions + c. 1500 unsigned impressions. Executed the same year as Chagall's suite of color lithographs for the Bible, this rare night scene glows with brilliant colors not seen much after this date, as Chagall's palate went pastel. 320x250mm. Price: $1,975.
The Face of Israel (M. 231). Original color lithograph, 1960. 50 signed and numbered impressions plus 6500 unsigned impressions for Verve (of which ours is one). Image size: 356x253mm. Price: $1,575.
Mystical Crucifixion (D.L.M. 250, n. 27-28). Original color lithograph, 1950. c. 1000 impressions signed in the stone; published in the deluxe art review, Derriere le Miroir in 1950. Chagall began doing paintings of the Crucifixion after the Nazis began the Holocaust, perhaps as a reminder that there were times in the past when the the full power of the state was turned against Jewish rabbis and their followers. It may be significant that this is one of the first two color lithographs that Chagall drew directly on the stone and that it came shortly after Israel's war for independence led to a troubled peace and six years before the Arab states would try again to destroy Israel. Included in the 1982 catalogue raisonee of Derriere le Miroir as an original lithograph and mentioned as one of Chagall’s first two solo efforts at color lithography in a 1977 memoir by Aimee Maeght, Chagall’s dealer from 1950 on, and the one who sent him to Mourlot’s lithography workshop to learn how to do all of the color stones for his lithographs, thereby starting a collaborative relationship with Charles Sorlier, master-printer at Mourlot, with whom he would work until his death in 1986. From now until 18 January 2009, another impression of this lithograph will be on display at the Museum of Biblical Art (Broadway and 61st Street in New York City) in an exhibition entitled Chagall's Bible: Mystical Storytelling, a title so good I wish I had thought of it first. Although our print is not in the show (because it is on the walls in our show), the photograph of this work included in the brochure for MOBIA's show, provided by us, is of our impression (as were three other photographs in their brochure). MOBIA's wall label suggests that the woman with the female child on the right of the composition were Chagall's first wife, Bella, and his daughter, Ida. No separate signed & numbered edition exists; with the centerfold as always. Image size: 360x520mm. Price: $4150.

Impression without complimentary signature available. Price: $1625.

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