The Marc Chagall Museum in Nice: the Bible in 17 paintings

A visit to the Marc Chagall Museum, devoted mainly to paintings of the Bible, is certainly worth a trip to Nice. It can be experienced as a journey of discovery of a great artist, but also as a deep spiritual and emotional journey. The important thing is not to be in a hurry and to stop, to “enter” the paintings.

A wandering painter who can make the brush dance and sound

Marc Chagall (Lëzna, July 7, 1887 – Saint-Paul-de-Vence, March 28, 1985) is a Russian painter and artist of Chassidic Jewish origin who became French. Already from his names one realizes the complexity of his identity: Moishe Segal in Hebrew, Mark Zacharovič Šagal Russian, and Chagall in France.

On the day of his birth, the synagogue is burned by Cossacks. He experiences the harsh years as a Jew in the Russian Empire, the revolution, the move to France, exile in the United States during the Nazis, and the return to France. He settles in the south of France, in Vence. It was here that he met the great artists of the last century such as Picasso, Matisse and many others.

Genesis at Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall

Bible paintings at the Chagall Museum

Seventeen large paintings tell the story of Genesis, Exodus and the Song of Songs. They are large paintings that capture you and take you into the story. Like any work of art everyone “takes” what they want and “leaves” what they can. The colors, the reds, the blues, the greens, are striking.

The figures seem to be moving, seeming to dance in history. Past, present and future meet in possible symphonies. Every smallest detail must be grasped, understood, deepened. The brush creates emotions.

Song of Songs at Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall

Judaism and Christianity are found in each painting, in a dialogue between the sacred and everyday life, in immanence, in the convergence of God and love. And the signs of the biblical narrative are positioned within history, with references to the most tragic events of the last century. The spirituality of Chagall’s paintings offers a path of pure meditation, helped also by the explanations available with the QR code.

The Museum, a unique exhibit

Entering the Song of Songs room, I found a boy kneeling, another person was motionless with his hands in prayer. I won’t hide the fact that we began to cry. This room, like the great works of Genesis and Exodus, are part of the beautiful  Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall. It is located in Nice, on the Avenue Docteur Ménard. It is easy to reach by car-there is a parking lot down the street-but also by bus from the station.

The entrance fee is not very expensive, 8-10 euros, and opening hours are: 10 am to 6 pm, and winter time to 5 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

The museum is an architectural work of art, which facilitates contemplation. And Chagall himself had been able to take care of its arrangements, which is very rare with the living artist. There is a nice café in the garden, which also serves hot meals, with very low prices, compared to tourist areas.

Wanting to continue with one of the spiritual paths of southern France, stop at Matisse’s Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire in Vence and go further on, to the grotto of Mary Magdalene in La Sainte Baume, near St. Maximine.

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