The Prophet Jeremiah

Marc Chagall, The Prophet Jeremiah, 1968. Oil on canvas, Musée National Marc Chagall, Nice, France.

Marc Chagall (1887−1985) was born in Belarus to a large, devout Jewish family. Chagall fled the Soviet Union in 1923 and settled in France, where he created works in a variety of media, including stained glass, theater sets, etchings, and paintings.  Art critic Robert Hughes considered Chagall “the quintessential Jewish artist of the 20th century.” Chagall’s unique style cycled through aspects of cubism, symbolism, and fauvism, eventually leading him to surrealism. In 1931 Chagall traveled to Palestine, where he immersed himself in the history of the Jews. He would return to the themes of the Hebrew Bible throughout his career.  In this painting, Chagall paints the prophet Jeremiah in a dreamlike sequence, grasping a book (perhaps the Hebrew Bible) under a moonlit sky. His head is bowed in concentration. The angel seems to float protectively over the scene.

Marc Chagall, The Prophet Jeremiah. Oil on canvas, 1968. Musée national Message Biblique Marc Chagall, Nice, France.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

The set of Biblical books shared by Jews and Christians. A more neutral alternative to "Old Testament."

Another name often used for the area of Israel and Judah, derived from the Latin term for the Roman province of Palaestina; ultimately, the name derives from the name of the Philistine people.

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