He was born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) in Vitsebsk, Belarus the eldest of eight children. His mother's name was Felga-Ita. He was one of the most important artists of surrealism, and in his works can be seen the resonance of fantasy and dreams.
In 1907, Marc Chagall moved to St. Petersburg where he joined the school of the Society of Art Supporters where he studied under Nikolai Roerich.
After become known as an artist he left St. Petersburg, Russia to join the gathering of artists in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France. In 1914 he returned to Vitsebsk and married his fiancée, Bella Rosenfeld whom he had met in 1909. As World War I broke out Chagall did not leave his home town but in 1915 he married Bella and the next year they had a daughter named Ida.
Chagall became an active participant in the 1917Russian Revolution. The Soviet Culture Ministry made him a Commissar of Art for the Vitebsk region where he founded an art school. He did not fair well under the Soviet system. He moved to Moscow in 1920 and back to Paris in 1923.
With the German occupation of France during World War II, and the deportation of Jews to the Nazisdeath camps Marc Chagall had to flee from France. With the assistance of the American journalist Varian Fry he hid at Villa Air-Bel in Marseilles before Fry helped him escape from France.
Major works include "I and the Village" (1911), "Green Violinist" (1923-24, Guggenheim Museum, New York), "The Birthday" (1915), "Solitude" (1933, Tel-Aviv Museum). Today, a Chagall painting can sell for more than US$6 million.