“Museo Nazionale Marc Chagall (Marc Chagall National Museum) was inaugurated on 7 July 1973 in the presence of artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) who celebrated his 86th birthday on the same day. It was the first time a national museum had been devoted to an artist in his lifetime. The building was designed in consultation with the architect Andre Hermant (1908-1978) to house an outstanding collection of works donated to the French State by Marc Chagall and his wife Valentina in 1996 and 1972. Inspired by the Bible, “the greatest source of poetry of all time” according to the artist, the donated works guided the building’s architectural design. Since the museum opened, the seventeen Biblical Message paintings have been displayed in the rooms according to the artist’s original installation plan. The works therefore interact closely with the elements in the surrounding space, such as the stained glass windows created especially for the auditorium, or the mosaic reflected in the pond.
“Chagall wanted it to be a house, rather than a museum. He remained faithful to the museum until his death in 1985. The pure, sleek lines of the building are surrounded by a garden of Mediterranean plants and trees.” — Museo Nazionale Marc Chagall
“The Creation of Man, Marc Chagall 1956-1958, oil on canvas. The bottom section of this painting depicts a scene from the Book of Genesis, while the top section features several different biblical episodes. The lower section is painted in a vibrant blue embellished with depictions of vegetation and animals. A winged creature moves to the fore, holding Adam’s body and Eve holding an apple in the loser right-hand section are references to the original sin. In the upper section, Chagall has painted a turning sun. Its colorful rays house a crowd of different characters: biblical protagonists, the Jewish people, hybrid creatures, and more. Christ on the cross is also shown here. His hips are encircled by the prayer shawl that Jewish men wear in the synagogue. Chagall meant this figure to represent the martyrdom of the Jewish people in World War II. Above and beyond the creation of Man, Chagall infuses this painting with a broader vision of the history of humanity.” — Museo Nazionale Marc Chagall
“Paradise, Marc Chagall 1961, oil on canvas. The painting represents two scenes, one set in Paradise and one on Earth. To the left, the creation of Eve, and to the right, the Temptation. These two scenes take place in a garden bathed in blue and green light, animated by warm, vibrant flecks of color. Animals, winged beings and hybrid creatures fly around Adam and Eve in a harmonious communion. To the left, Eve emerges from a cloud. The first woman was fashioned from the rib of the first man, as symbolized by Adam’s raised arm. To the right, Adam and Eve are intertwined, forming a single being with just two arms and three legs. They are on the brink of sharing the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, which they believed would make them God’s equals.” — Museo Nazionale Marc Chagall