Chagall was already 35 years old when he started with printmaking techniques. At that time he lived in Berlin, Germany with his wife, Bella, and his daughter, Ida. He created woodcuts, etchings and a total of 24 lithographs. These early prints were drawn by the artist on paper and transformed into lithographs by a professional printer. At that time, Chagall - as so many famous artists - did not yet have the necessary knowledge and skill to master the technical printing process himself.
In 1923 Chagall returned to Paris. He received commissions by the art dealer Vollard to illustrate Gogol's book The Dead Souls, La Fontaine's Fables and the Bible. For all three series, the technique of etchings was used. Vollard died before these illustrations could be finished. They were later published with a huge delay by E.Teriade in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
During Chagall's exile in New York, in 1946, the New York Museum of Modern Art had a huge retrospective exhibition of Marc Chagall's prints and paintings. The exhibition was a big success and was later shown in Chicago. In 1947 Mark Chagall returned to France. 1950 is the beginning of a completely new era for his printmaking activities. He cooperated with the publisher Mourlot in Paris. At the age of 63, Chagall more or less learned the art of making lithographs from scratch - like an apprentice. The teacher of this gifted "apprentice" became Charles Sorlier, a professional and exceptionally talented printer. Under the guidance of Sorlier, Chagall worked regularly in the printing studio of Mourlot. In this period he created his graphic masterpieces like Daphnis and Chloe.
Chagall prints are usually limited to an average of 50 copies, signed and numbered by the artist. In addition to these numbered prints, about a dozen artist proof prints - numbered in Roman numerals and printed on different paper - were produced. From 1950 on, Velin d'Arches or B.F.K. de Rives paper was used. These papers have watermarks. Both paper brands are not purely white, but are slightly toned. But editions printed on Japan paper (Japon nacre) can be found as well. At the end of his life, the artist had created more than one thousand prints - mainly lithographs and etchings.
Chagall died at the age of 98 on March 28, 1985 in Saint-Paul in France. His works are sought after by art lovers and museums all over the world. Chagall is considered as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.