Marc Chagall was a Russian-born French painter and designer, distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. His work treats subjects in a vein of humor and fantasy that draws deeply on the resources of the unconscious. Chagall's personal and unique imagery is often suffused with exquisite poetic inspiration. Chagall was born in Russia, and educated in Saint Petersburg and Paris. In addition to his career as a practicing artist, he was the Director of the Art Academy in Vitsyebsk and Art Director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater. Chagall painted several murals in the theater lobby and executed the settings for numerous productions.
Chagall's distinctive use of color and form is derived partly from Russian Expressionism and was influenced decisively by French Cubism. His numerous works represent characteristically vivid recollections of Russian-Jewish village scenes, incidents in his private life and treatments of Jewish subjects, combining recollection with folklore and fantasy. Biblical themes characterize a series of etchings executed between 1925 and 1939, illustrating the Old Testament, and the 12 stained-glass windows in the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. In 1973, the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall was opened in Nice, France, to house hundreds of his biblical works. Chagall also executed many prints illustrating literary classics. A 1964 canvas can be found covering the ceiling of the Opera in Paris, and two large murals (1966) hang in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.