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Autographs and Illustrations of Marc Chagall

Autographs and Illustrations of Marc Chagall
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Today, July 7, is the birthday of our outstanding compatriot, the world famous artist Marc Chagall. There are unique autographs, illustrated editions showing the life and creative career of the master and the cultural atmosphere of the early 20th century in the National Library of Belarus.

The book by art critics Abram Efros and Yakov Tugendhold "The Art of Marc Chagall", published in Moscow in 1918, includes thirty reproductions of the artist's painting and graphics. Circulation – 850 numbered copies, the collection of the National Library of Belarus contains copy No. 211. The book was compiled with the participation of the Society of Jewish National Aesthetics "Schomir" created at the end of 1916. The cover is designed with a drawing by Marc Chagall "Man With His Head Thrown Back."


The book was published by the "Helikon" publishing house, which worked in Moscow in 1917–1918, then in Berlin and Paris. The book contains the stamp of the publishing house crafted by Lazar Lissitzky. This artist was a member of the "Shomir" society. The Viciebsk artist Palina Khentava, with whom Lissitzky was in love, took an active part in it. It was love that brought Lissitzky to Viciebsk. In 1919 he was appointed Head of the Graphic, Printing and Architecture Workshops at the Viciebsk People's Art School. Together with Kazimir Malevich, Lazar Lissitzky participated in the creation and work of the avant-garde art association UNOVIS. Chagall, Lissitzky and Malevich decorated the city's buildings for the holidays in the Suprematist style, organized exhibitions and philosophical debates. In Viciebsk, Lazar Lissitzky first used the pen-name El Lissitzky.

Two years after the publication of the book, Abram Efros will attract Marc Chagall to work at the Jewish Chamber Theater in Moscow. In the summer of 1920, Chagall will leave the Viciebsk school, which until then he headed, and together with his wife and daughter will move to Moscow. Abram Efros, who was in charge of the artistic part of the theater, persuaded the director Alexei Granovsky to order Chagall the decoration of the first Moscow performance, consisting of three one-act plays by Sholem Aleichem.


The book "Marc Chagall" by art critic Karl With includes an article on the work of Marc Chagall and drawings from 1909–1922. The book was published as the 35th issue of the "Young Art" series in 1923, when the author was a professor at the University of Bonn.


The poetry collection "Poèmes d'amour" (Poems of Love) by the German-French writer Claire Gaulle with illustrations by Marc Chagall was published in Paris in 1925. The circulation of the book included 600 numbered copies printed on laid paper.


The collection of the National Library of Belarus contains copy No. 4. At the beginning of the 20th century, laid paper was considered high-grade, it was used mainly for the manufacture of small-circulation and gift editions. The edition includes 4 drawings by Chagall.


The book "Suite provinciale" ("Provincial Suite"), published in Paris in 1927, includes 92 drawings by Marc Chagall. The author, French art critic, writer and collector Gustave Coquiot, highly appreciated Chagall's works and bought them in the early years of his life in Montparnasse. The book presents the world of provincial France in verbal and visual images.


There is copy No. 223 with the artist's autograph in the collection of the National Library of Belarus. A dedication inscription is placed on the foretitle: “A Marie-Louise et Florent Fels amicalement Marc Chagall. 1927 "("To Marie-Louise and Florent Fels amicably from Marc Chagall, 1927"). The autograph is addressed to the French art critic and journalist Florent Fels.


The book "Marc Chagall" was published by the Paris publishing house "Galimard" in 1928 in the series "Les peintres français nouveaux" ("New French artists"). This is one of the first monographic works about Chagall, testifying to the recognition of the artist in the capital of world painting. Introductory article by art critic Waldemar Georges, cover and title page with a portrait of Chagall, 29 black and white reproductions of his paintings and graphic works. The autograph fascinates the viewer with its unusual structural solution and original layout. Above the dedication inscription "Pour mon ami Fels Chagall" ("To my friend Fels, Chagall") there is a drawing of a female figure and the Star of David. As in the previous book, the autograph is addressed to Florent Fels, who headed "Action" magazine and supported young artists and writers.


Marc Chagall's autobiographical book "Ma vie" ("My Life") was published in Paris in 1931 in French, translated by the artist's wife Bella Chagall. The book has a dedication: "To my parents, wife, hometown." There is copy No. 525 with the artist's autograph in the collection of the National Library of Belarus. The dedicatory inscription in Russian and French is addressed to the library created in Paris for Russian students: "To the Turgenev Library from the author, Paris 1933 Marc Chagall". The upper endpaper, title and individual pages the following is stamped: "Bibliothèque Russe Tourguenev 9, Rue du Val-de-Grâce, 9".


Bibliology Research Department



Excursions on National Unity Day

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The students of the Minsk City Cadet School and Minsk Secondary School No. 225 attended the excursion of the "Outstanding People of the Motherland" cycle on September 17. For them, excursions were conducted on the heritage of Francysk Skaryna and the writings of Uladzimir Karatkievich.

National Library of Belarus News

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This year, the Book Museum of the National Library of Belarus celebrates 15 years from its opening. The history of the Museum is an important part of the Library's history. We continue a series of publication-recollections about the Museum from its creators and associate experts.

National Library of Belarus News

Sustained Silent Reading: How to Stop Being Afraid and Teach Children to Love Literature

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To you, an accomplished book lover, it may seem that the new generation is lost to culture. They don't read anything other than social media posts. This is terrible – mainly because it is not true. However, it is true that getting children to read is becoming harder and harder. What can be done about it? First, take your child to the Children's Room classes in the National Library. Second, recall experiences from the past. Take, for example, an interesting practice from the US school curriculum, which in the distant 1960s distracted children from televisions and put them back on the proper path of book lovers.

Author's Point of View

"To Set in Motion the Energy of Conscience..."

21 Sep 2021

An exhibition “To Set in Motion the Energy of Conscience”, dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the birth of Nil Hilievich, national poet of Belarus, literary critic, folklorist, translator, Honored Scientist of Belarus  (1931-2016), is on show in the Belarusian Literature Reading Room (room 205) from September 21 to November 15.

Book exhibitions