Chagall was born in a tiny town on the Polish border in the western Russian Empire
He was born on 7 July 1887 in Vitebsk, a Belorussian-born French painter, printmaker, and designer whose images were composed of emotional and poetic associations rather than pictorial logic. His first pictures, such as I and the Village (1911), predated Surrealism and were among the first representations of psychological reality in modern art. Sets for plays and ballets, etchings of the Bible, and stained-glass windows are among his works in many mediums.
Chagall was born in a tiny town on the Polish border in the western Russian Empire. His family, which involved eight different children, was devoutly Jewish. Like the rest of Vitebsk’s 20,000 Jews, humble without being impoverished, his father worked in a herring warehouse while his mother operated a shop selling fish, bread, sugar, and spices.
Chagall attended the heder (Jewish elementary school) as a child and subsequently transferred to the local public school, where he was taught in Russian. He studied painting at the workshop of local realism, Jehuda Pen, after mastering the fundamentals of drawing at school, then moved to St. Petersburg in 1907, where he studied sporadically for three years, eventually under stage designer Léon Bakst. Chagall’s early adulthood is shown by the terrifying The Dead Man (1908), which portrays a roof fiddler (a favorite subject), and My Fiancée with Black Gloves (1909), in which a portrait allows the artist to experiment with arranging black and white.
Chagall moved to Paris in 1910, with a living stipend supplied by a benefactor in St. Petersburg. After a year and a half at Montparnasse, he moved into a studio on the outskirts of town in La Ruche (“the Beehive”), a ramshackle hamlet for bohemian artists. There, he encountered avant-garde writers Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, and Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as a number of upcoming painters: Expressionist Chaim Soutine, abstract colorist Robert Delaunay, and Cubists Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger, and André Lhote.