The Marketplace, Vitebsk

Artist: Marc Chagall (French, Vitebsk 1887–1985 Saint-Paul-de-Vence)

Date: 1917

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 26 × 38 3/8 in. (66 × 97.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982

Accession Number: 1984.433.6

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


After training and exhibiting his art in Paris, Chagall returned to his hometown Vitebsk in 1914 to marry his childhood sweetheart Bella Rosenfeld. His homecoming was prolonged by World War I (1914–18), during which international travel became restricted. Showing a public square, The Markeplace contrasts the large, opulent Baroque basilica with the modest storefronts and stalls. The painter employs dramatic perspective and uses the intersecting planes and angles of the buildings to move the viewer’s eye playfully throughout the scene, which contains no clear sign of the ongoing deadly conflict.