Once again, the Forest Lawn Museum is host to the work of an extraordinary artist: the Russian-born painter Marc Chagall. Currently on its walls are 65 early monochromatic works, under the exhibition title “Chagall: The Early Etchings,” showing illustrations that are vivid and imaginative.
The etchings originally illustrated two popular literary documents: “The Adventures of Chichikov,” by Russian poet and novelist Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), also known as “Les Ames Mortes” (translation: “The Dead Souls”); and “Selected Fables,” as told by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695), a French classical author.
In the first novel, the protagonist Chichikov concocts a bizarre plan to purchase ownership of deceased male serfs (i.e., their souls) for which landowners are still taxed by the local greedy governance. An outdated census gives an illusion of value to the dead serfs and it is against this property which con artist Chichikov intends to borrow to complete his fraudulent scheme.