Marc Chagall Jerusalem Windows


In1962 a deluxe book on the making of the "Jerusalem Windows" was published by Andre Sauret. Under Chagall's supervision, Charles Sorlier produced twelve 20-color stone lithographs for the series. These were based on Chagall's final models for the stained glass windows he had designed for The Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center. Included in the books publication were two original lithographs (M. 365 and M. 366) by Marc Chagall, also printed by Sorlier at the Mourlot workshop. "Jerusalem Windows" was published in an edition of unknown size.

The Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center was dedicated on February 6th, 1962, as apart of Hadassah's Golden Anniversary celebration. The Synagogue is illuminated by a hanging lantern and by sunlight which streams through Marc Chagall's magnificent stained glass windows. Chagall, who was present at the dedication, spoke of the joy he felt in bringing "my modest gift to the Jewish people, who have always dreamt of biblical love, of friendship and peace among all people; to those people who lived here, thousands of years ago, among other Semitic people. My hope is that I hereby extend my hand to seekers of culture, to poets and to artists among the neighboring people." The creation of the Windows was a labor of love to Chagall and his assistant, Charles Marq, both of whom worked on the project for two years. Marq developed a special process of veneering pigment which allowed Chagall to use as many as three colors on a single uninterrupted pane of glass, rather than being confined to the traditional technique of separating each color pane by a thin strip.

The "Jerusalem Windows" lithographs, like the windows, represent the twelve sons of the Patriarch Jacob, from whom came the Twelve tribes of Israel. Chagall's images are populated by floating figures of animals, flowers, fish, and numerous Jewish symols. To fully understand the significance of this series, they must be viewed under Chagall's deep sense of identification with the whole of the Jewish history, its tragedies and victories, as well as his own personal background in the village of Vitebsk, where he was born and grew up. "All the time I was working, I felt my father and my mother were looking over my shoulder, and behind them were Jews, millions of other vanished Jews of yesterday and a thousand years ago." But it was the Bible that provided his main inspiration, particularly Genesis 49, where Jacob blesses his 12 sons, and Deuteronomy 33, where Moses blesses the Twelve Tribes. The dominant colors used in each lithograph are inspired by those blessings as well as by the description of the breastplate of the High Priest in Exodus 28:15, which was colored gold, blue, scarlet, and purple, and contained 12 gems including turquoise, emeralds, sapphires and lapis lazuli.


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