5: Illustration, Marc Chagall's "Esther" lithograph for Verve Bible, 1960.

5: Illustration, Marc Chagall's "Esther" lithograph for Verve Bible, 1960.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was a Russian-French modernist painter who earned fame as one of the preeminent Jewish visual artists of the twentieth century. He was known for his fantastical style drawing on Jewish folk motifs. Chagall created two series of works on the Bible, the first after completing a visit to the Holy Land in 1931. The second was a series of 24 lithographs (including "Esther," below) published by the Parisian artistic and literary magazine Verve in 1960.  He chose scenes from the Bible to illustrate, focusing on encounters between God and humanity in which the subjects are flawed human beings called to face the divine. 

This illustration of Esther represents Esther 2:7: "And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter; for she had neither father nor mother, and the maiden was of beautiful form and fair to look on; and when her father and mother were dead, Mordecai took her for his own daughter" (JPS translation).

Suggested Activity: Have your students study the image and choose a few adjectives to describe Esther's character, as Chagall seems to see her. If the students have at this point looked at a few other texts discussing Esther, have them identify which of these texts they think best accords with Chagall's representation of the character.

Source: Marc Chagall, "Esther," 1960, Lithograph for Verve, Paris in Illustrations for the Bible. Teriade, Paris. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.