Marc Chagall ( 1887- 1985 )was born Moishe Shagal near the city of Vitebsk, Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire.
Chagall was the eldest of nine children. The family name, Shagal, is a variant of the name Segal, which in a Jewish community was usually borne by a Levitic family.
Chagall's art can be understood as the response to a situation that has long marked the history of Russian Jews. Though they were cultural innovators who made important contributions to the broader society, Jews were considered outsiders in a frequently hostile society. Chagall himself was born of a family steeped in religious life; his parents were observant Hasidic Jews who found spiritual satisfaction in a life defined by their faith and prayer.
In 1910, Chagall relocated to Paris to develop his artistic style where he enrolled at Académie de La Palette, an avant-garde school of art. In 1914 he returned to Russia during which time he worked as a stage designer and art teacher, before returning to Paris in 1922.
It was latter in this decade he was commissioned by Vollard to illustrate the Old Testament. He used the assignment as an excuse to travel with his family to Israel to experience for himself the Holy Land.
As a result, he immersed himself in "the history of the Jews, their trials, prophecies, and disasters. On there return between 1931 and 1934 he worked "obsessively" on "The Bible", completing 66 out of the total of 105 plates by the out break of war in 1939. It was not until 1956 the series was completed, when it was met with with great acclaim.