“In spite of everything, there is still no more wonderful vocation than to continue to tolerate events and to work on in the name of our mission, in the name of that spirit which lives on in our teaching and in our vision of humanity and art, the spirit which can lead us Jews down the true and just path. But along the way, peoples will spill our blood, and that of others.”
—M. Chagall, Lecture, Congress of the Jewish Scientific Institute Vilnius (1935)
The Prophet Jeremiah (Le prophète Jérémie), 1968, by Marc Chagall. Oil on canvas. 115 by 146.3 cm. Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Marc Chagall [born as Moishe Shagal; 1887–1985] wrote in the Foreword to the first catalogue of the National Museum of the Biblical Message in Nice, France, in 1973: “Ever since my early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me, and still seems to me today, to be the greatest source of poetry of all time. Ever since then, I have searched for its reflection in life and art: the Bible is like an echo of nature, and this is the secret I have tried to convey.” It is no surprise that Chagall found inspiration in the Bible; many artists have. Jeremiah (or in Hebrew, יִרְמְיָהוּ, “Yirmeyahu,” is one of the major prophets in Judaism. He is also known as the “Weeping Prophet;” although he warned the Jewish People of the catastrophe that would come about, he did so with empathy and tears, carrying the burden as his own. Such is seen (and felt) in Chagall’s painting.
Photo Credit & Source: Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris