The Prophet Isaiah

Marc Chagall, The Prophet Isaiah, 1968. Oil on canvas,  Musée National Marc Chagall, Nice, France.

Marc Chagall (1887–1985) was an artist who did not specialize. He worked in various media—stained glass, oil painting, tapestry, ceramics, mosaic, lithograph, even theatrical staging for the theater, ballet, and opera. Chagall is a difficult artist for art historians to categorize; his unique style of magical realism became a signature method for expressing the human experience. Born in Belarus to an Orthodox (Hasidic) Jewish family, he had a passion for depicting biblical themes. The work shown here captures the moment from the book of Isaiah when a seraph, a six-winged celestial being, encounters the prophet Isaiah. The seraph is in the act of purification, touching Isaiah’s lips with a live coal from the altar of God’s throne.  

Marc Chagll, The Prophet Isaiah. Oil on canvas, 1968. Musée du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall, Nice, France.

The means of cleansing oneself of any ritual impurity that would prevent participation in religious observance such as sacrifice at the temple.

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