Chagall was born in Vitebsk, Russia in 1887 and lived to be 97 years old. His style, while reflective of cubist, expressionist and surrealist affinities, is distinctly personal. His contribution to early modern painting and printmaking has been of the first order.
Chagall studied briefly with a local artist in Vitebsk, and in 1908 studied at the academy in St. Petersburg. In 1910, he went to Paris, where he would live for most of the rest of his long life. There he met the poets Max Jacob, Blaise Centrars and Andre Salmeon, and the painters Modigliani, Delaunay, LaFresnaye, along with other cubists and independents.
The complexities of Chagall's aesthetics are apt to be obscured somewhat by the whimsical fantastic subject matter. Although cubism had an early and formative influence upon his works, it did not detract from his uniqueness of expression. His style became increasingly romantic and devoted to fantastic narratives during the middle 1920's. Chagall's first lithography plates (30 in all from 1922-23) were executed in crayon on lithographic paper.
An intimate associate of the artist, Charles Solier, has observed that: "For Chagall, lithography is not just a means of reproducing his work, but an essential component of a form of creation that cannot find expression through any other medium. A Chagall lithograph is rarely based on one of his paintings, but his canvases are often adaptations from his lithographs, which serve as working sketches. Unlike Picasso, whose graphic work often took a completely different direction from paintings; Chagall's lithographs and etchings merge effortlessly with his creations in other media."