Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Marc Chagall, great avant-garde artist

Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall was the Russian, Belarusian and French painter of Jewish origin. He was one of the most successful artists of the 20th century. He created works in virtually every artistic medium, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.
Chagall proved himself one of the 20th century’s great masters of art.


“My mother told me that when I was born, a huge fire had engulfed the city, and to save us, the bed in which we were both lying, was being moved from place to place. Maybe that’s why I always feel the need to go somewhere.” Marc Chagall was restless, like a migratory bird.
Once in his childhood a gypsy foretold him that he would have an extraordinary life, would love one extraordinary woman and two ordinary, and would die … in flight.

In 1973, at the Paris air show happened a tragedy: crashed a Soviet plane “Tu”. Two days later, 86-year-old Chagall had to fly on the same “Tu” to his native Russia.
In the studio came Chagall’s wife – Valentina. Despite the fact that she was a quarter century younger than her husband, she was the head of the family. “Mark, do not fly! – she said imperiously. – I have a bad feeling”. Chagall looked at her with his cornflower-blue eyes, shook his gray curly head, “We’ll fly, Vava.” Valentina didn’t insist.
Chagall was not afraid to fly, although he believed in gypsy’s prediction. He just thought: what is fated to be cannot be avoided. For a long time Marc was dreaming of a trip to Russia. The last time he had seen the Russian capital in 1922.
The flight went well. Naturally, after Moscow Marc was going to visit Vitebsk, but he caught a cold. It was better for him not to see what had happened: 93 percent of homes were destroyed during the war and the beautiful cathedral was ruined in the fifties.
According to some sources Chagall was born in Liozna, near the city of Vitebsk. In fact, the eldest of nine children, Marc was born on July 6, 1887 on the outskirts of Vitebsk, Russian Empire. And in Liozno lived maternal grandfather.
As Chagall discovered the passion for painting, he left his hometown.
He wrote: “In Vitebsk there were many posts, pigs and fences, and artistic talents were napping”.
But in St. Petersburg and then in Paris, in New York, but anywhere, he drew the same Vitebsk poles, fences, forbidden pigs, goats, puddles, violinist, coachmen, a rabbi …

However, his main passion 22-year-old Chagall found in St. Petersburg. Her name was Bella Rosenfeld. She was interested in literature, philosophy … With her Marc had an unprecedented feeling of weightlessness, floating and peace. On his pictures she was quietly flying in the sky, and Marc was flying next to her – over fences, over the pigs, the posts, over the ordinary and nice Vitebsk.

A year after meeting Bella and Mark were the bride and groom. But one day he suddenly ran away to Paris. Bella kept quiet, she knew he would be back.

In Paris, as befits a true artist, Chagall lived in misery and even starving. Marc painted it on a cloth, then on the sheets, then on his own nightgown, because he didn’t have money on the canvas.

He felt a vague uneasiness. Or maybe it was a subconscious desire to get away from the war, which began in 1914, and France was the main enemy of Germany … Who knew that Russia was the least suitable place for a person who did not want any wars and disasters.
Marc came to Bella. And again he drew himself and his Bella floating in the sky, free and in love.
And then in Russia occurred two revolutions, one after the other.
Marc worked as an art teacher in child labor colonies “Malahovka” and “III International”, where he, like all, baked bread, was on duty in the kitchen. Meanwhile, Bella sold off the family jewels to feed five-year-old Ida.
In 1922, Chagall and his family moved to Kaunas, then – to Berlin and again to Paris. In France, Chagall lived up to the Second World War.

In 1941 the leadership of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City invites artists to move from Nazi-controlled France in the United States, and in the summer of 1941 the family Chagall moved to New York. Picasso and Matisse were also among the artists invited to come to America but they decided to remain in France. Chagall and Bella arrived in New York on June 23, 1941, which was the next day after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
At that time, Chagall often painted fires.



On 2 September 1944, Bella, his only love and extraordinary woman, died suddenly due to a virus infection. It was a terrible catastrophe for Marc. As a result, he stopped all work for many months. He could go mad or die, but 28-years-old Ida hired a housekeeper for her father. Virginia Haggard was a beautiful, educated woman and from a good family.
Chagall was then fifty-eight, Virginia was in her thirties. No, he still loved his Bella, but the loneliness was unbearable for Chagall!
Soon, Virginia gave birth to a son – David McNeill. In 1948 the family moved to France.

Chagall and Virginia, Cannes, 1951

Chagall and Virginia, Cannes, 1951

Alas, Virginia was an ordinary woman, and could not resist the temptations of Paris. In April 1952 she left Chagall for the photographer Charles Leirens. It was a great drama for Chagall, he even contemplated suicide.
And his daughter found and persuaded Valentina Brodetskaya, who then lived in England, to become a companion for an artist.

Wawa (Valentina Brodetskaya) was a daughter of the well-known manufacturer and the owner of London’s fashion salon. She was younger than Chagall.
In general, on July 12, 1952 Valentina became Chagall’s wife. For the honeymoon they chose Greece.
They lived in a small Mediterranean town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, twenty kilometers from Nice.

Chagall died on March 28, 1985 in the elevator, went up to the second floor. Though not high, but still up! And, then, he actually died in flight …
official site

Marc Chagall, great avant-garde artist