Artist Marc Chagall was born into a Jewish family in the town of Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus) in 1887. He attended the Imperial School for the Protection of the Fine Arts in St Petersburg from 1907, and later at the Zvantseva School, led by Léon Bakst. In May 1911, Chagall arrived in Paris, where he enrolled at the Académie de La Palette and settled at La Ruche (the Beehive) studios in Montparnasse, mixing with other Jewish immigrant artists, including Modigliani and Chaïm Soutine. Chagall frequently used animals for symbolic purposes in his dream-like paintings that brought together aspects of French tradition with Russian folklore and Jewish motifs. His first solo exhibition took place at Der Sturm Gallery in Berlin in 1914. During his visit to Russia in 1914, the outbreak of the First World War prevented his return to Paris. In 1922 he left again for Berlin, where his work was published by the periodical Der Sturm.


In 1923 Chagall returned to Paris, where he stayed until 1940, becoming a French citizen in 1937. Following the German occupation in May 1940, Chagall and his wife Bella remained in 'Vichy France', until one year later the Chagalls escaped to the USA on forged visas. They found refuge in New York, where Chagall remained for the rest of the war. In 1946 a major Chagall retrospective was held at The Museum of Modern Art; he remained in America for a further two years before returning to France in 1948. In later life, Chagall accepted commssions for stained-glass schemes as well. Marc Chagall died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France in 1985.