Chagall and the Bible Exhibit Guide
Lithograph from Portfolio Chagall Lithograph II
Chagall, like many artists, created numerous paintings and prints of him as an artist. He pictures himself with an easel, bouquet of flowers that was one of his symbols of love, distant houses from a shtetl in his homeland of Russia, and a bird floating unencumbered upside down in the sky.
Moses and the Serpent
Etching 9 x 11 ½
But Moses spoke up and said, “What if they do not believe me and do not listen to me, but say: The LORD did not appear to you?” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he replied, “A rod.” He said, “Cast it on the ground.” He cast it on the ground and it became a snake; and Moses recoiled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and grasp it by the tail”—he put out his hand and seized it, and it became a rod in his hand—“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did appear to you.”
Moses’ marvel of the rod transformed into a snake provides Chagall with the opportunity to depict another crowd scene full of anecdotal detail. While Pharaoh calmly looks on, his courtiers express their amazement in exaggerated gestures and poses.
Moses and the Burning Bush
13 7/8 x 10 1/4
And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Published by Verve in 1956
13 7/8 x 10 1/4
Chagall is known for his depictions of angels, usually light and airy, but this angel projects a mood of night and darkness.
14 x 20 1/4
Each element in this lithograph contains personal or symbolic meaning for Chagall: a Russian village for the earthly home; candlestick for the Old Testament, or Judaism; clock for time, past or present; Madonna and Child for Mary and Jesus, or the relationship of mother and child; the red ox for sacrifice; the Crucifixion for Christ. A prayer shawl covers Jesus’ loins to remind, lest we forget, that Jesus was a Jew.
That Chagall himself a Jew would have used the Crucifixion in so many of his works as either the subject or as a reference in his paintings evinces that he must have understood the Crucifixion as one of the most poignant symbols of suffering in all of history. Chagall believed the image of the Crucifixion to be denominationally unspecific and thus, treated the symbol as representing a ‘universal spirituality’ as the savior of humankind.
Christ in the Clock
9 x 7 7/8
Although Jewish, Chagall as an artist often visited the subject of the Crucifixion, perhaps as a symbol for the suffering of the Jewish people. His mixture of images is very esoteric in Christ in the Clock and therefore the work falls into a world of personal poetry. Notice that he has written his name above the “clock/head” of the Christ form.
24 ¼ x 21
In this lithograph, Chagall has portrayed an angel figure at the top and then a horn, perhaps a ram’s horn that symbolizes an announcement to the people of Israel.
This signed poster was created in 1973 for an exhibition at the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, one of the most beautiful museums in southern France, in which one room houses Chagall’s 17 large paintings, telling the story of the Old Testament. Chagall’s powerful and majestic angel hovers over the land offering her presence and protection.