• Issue: September 1969
  • Designer: Mark Chagall
  • Plate no.: 268
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

Marc Chagall

Marc Chagall was one of the last representatives of the wonderful school of artists which flourished in Paris between the two World Wars. Besides the fact that he was among the finest creators of the century, he is important to us as the artist who set Jewish subjects in their most universal settings. Actually, his work defies the usual definitions. But attempting to do so. He was a surrealist and an expressionist at one and the same time. It seems as if his widespread use of his childhood and Jewish background in motifs, in Jewish symbols, in the mingling of motifs and of general symbols, is what formed the basis of his amazing, singular blend of surrealism and expressionism within his paintings. His frequent visits to Israel, his important works now here and his influence on our Art, all indicate the deep mutual connection that existed between Chagall and Israel.

Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia, in 1887 into a family with many children. He studied drawing under various teachers, including Leon Bakst, the famous Jewish set designer, who brought him into contact with modern art. In 1910 he went to Paris and became closely attached to various well known artists and writers such as Modigliani and Apollinaire. At the start of World War I he was again in Russia, and immediately following the Revolution he was appointed Commissar of Fine Arts in the Vitebsk area. In Moscow he was introduced to Granovsky, the director of the Jewish Theatre, and created a mural for the Theatre, as well as sets and costumes. In 1922 he returned to Paris; in 1931 he visited Israel for the first time, being present at the opening of the Tel Aviv Museum. During World War II he was in the United States. After the war he lived at Vence in southern France.

Chagall's work was many faceted. In part it is somewhat illustrative of matters connected with the life of Man - birth, love, marriage, death - and especially with Jewish folk life, and in part it deals with traditional subjects, mainly from the Bible. To the first sphere belongs the famous series of etchings My Life and such paintings as Me and the Village and The Birth, and to the second sphere the etchings to the Bible, on which he worked from the start of the 1930s on for many years, the stained glass windows which he created for the synagogue at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, and the mosaics for the Knesset building in Jerusalem.

Throughout his work, his imagination and humor reigned freely. Through these he expressed his more intimate side - the descriptive, often dramatic side of his story. Like the great Jewish storytellers - Mendele, Peretz - Chagall's story contained equal parts of self-irony and a love of mankind, and it is in this point that it is possible to define Chagall as a definitely Jewish artist.

The Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum and the Art Museum at Ein-Harod all possess oils by Chagall, as well as excellent collections of his graphic works. Various exhibitions - including a retrospective showing held in Israel's three major cities in 1951 - have presented his work before the Israeli public. But the closest and most meaningful bond between the artist and Israel is probably the Hadassah windows, a fine example of the imagination and color in his biblical illustrations.

The "King David" Stamp

The stamp depicts King David, one of a series of biblical pictures painted by Marc Chagall during 1950-1956. It shows the King with his harp, Batsheva, an angel with three lighted candles and a boy with flowers, the walls of Jerusalem and "the prophet". The tab inscription is: " ... and David administered justice and equity to all his people" (2 Samuel 8: 15).

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King David