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The Greatest Collection of Artworks – Marc Chagall Nice Museum

The Marc Chagall Art Museum in Nice, also know as Musee National Marc Chagall is a wonderful museum to visit. In fact, if you need to decide on ONE art museum to visit during your trip to Nice, then this should be it!!!

Marc Chagall Art Museum
Marc Chagall Nice Museum – Photo by historical couple (CC BY-ND 2.0)

History of the Chagall Museum in Nice

The Chagall Museum is located in the suburb of Cimiez on a hill. The museum opened it’s doors in 1973. André Hermant, a French architect designed this stunning museum.

In fact, Marc Chagall was directly involved in the planning of the entire museum. He installed the huge mosaic, designed the stained-glass window in the auditorium, curated exactly where each artwork was to be placed and planned the landscaping of the beautiful gardens.

Chagall also donated many artworks which created the basis of the museum’s collection. Later, the museum’s collection grew from acquisitions and bequests.

A Museum Celebrating the Russian-French Artist

This beautiful museum celebrates the impressive art career of the Russian – French artist Marc Chagall. The museum is located in Nice as Chagall felt a strong connection to Southern France.

In his last 20 years, and after World War Two, Chagall left the United States and returned to his beloved France. However, he wanted a quieter life and settled down in a small historical town called Saint Paul de Vence, not far from Nice.

Chagall loved this town and lived there for 20 years and is buried in the small cemetery. Chagall felt inspired during these years to paint landscapes of the beautiful scenery of Southern France. Many of these paintings are on display in this museum.

This museum showcases the largest Marc Chagall collection in the world, displaying over 400 artworks

Marc Chagall Museum - Room of the Biblical series - Musée National Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall Paintings, Photo by Igor (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Famous Bible Cycle (also known as the Biblical Message)

Chagall was born to a very religious Jewish family in Vitebsk, a Russian village (today in Belarus). As such, he studied the bible extensively in his younger years. These formative years in Russia became very influential in Chagall’s artistic career and throughout his entire life. The bible series is therefore a clear expression of Chagall’s roots and his inner Jewish self.

The Biblical Series is the heart and soul of the museum. He painted this series between 1954 and 1967. These paintings are Chagall’s interpretation of the Bible. In the first room, you will find twelve large impressive paintings representing the first two books of the Old Testament, Genesis and Exodus. In a second room are five stunning paintings illustrating his interpretation of the Song of Songs, another book from the bible.

Marc Chagall painting a scene from the Bible
Biblical Cycle Series – Musée National Marc Chagall

These impressive paintings make up the basis of what Chagall termed the “House of Brotherhood.” His hope was that this series of paintings would provide unity and love to all people of all religions.

The scenes of each painting comprise of images and elements from Chagall’s childhood life in Russia, from his Jewish roots and the Bible itself. He paints these themes using strong, vibrant and beautiful colors.

Over 400 Chagall Artworks

The museum also displays are huge collection of more contemporary subject matter. Chagall worked with and mastered many different artistic media. His diverse artworks include painting, illustrations, lithographs, ceramics, stained-glass and mosaics. This impressive museum showcases many of these diverse art forms, demonstrating the brilliance of Chagall.

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love”

Marc Chagall Quotes

Marc Chagall Paintings on biblical themes
The Biblical Message by Marc Chagall
Photo by Rosino (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Practical Information:

Address: 36 Avenue Dr Ménard, Cimiez, 04 93 53 87 20

Hours: 10am to 6pm from May-October, 10am-5pm in winter.  

Closed on Tuesdays, plus May 1, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Press on the link for more information about the museum and current exhibitions

“When Matisse dies,” Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, “Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.”

Marc Chagall Painting - Adam and Eve are expelled from paradise - Bible Series
Marc Chagall Painting – Adam and Eve are expelled from paradise – Bible Series

Looking for an Art Tour on the French Riviera that will take you to the magnificent museums of Chagall, Matisse & the Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild? Check out the options below:

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See below for more articles about the incredible Marc Chagall, his life, where to see his art and a great historical fiction book about the Chagall family