The Technique

Chagall uses the lithography technique, which he picked up much later in his painting life. The Soul of Circus has abstract elements and folklore imagery. The painting is of various human forms floating around the whole artwork. On the right of the painting is a person in red, holding out a bouquet of flowers that comes to the centre, at the foreground. The person and the flowers have the richest colours in the painting. The focus of the picture is the two elements.

The rest of the painting is of various human and animal forms floating vertically and horizontally. The hues are soft, with a pale green as the background colour. There are some instances of colour dotted throughout the painting.

Some figures are in blue, red and there is a yellow sun in the top background, and the bunch of flowers in the centre are green, with tinges of red. He painted it in the primitivist style and incorporated the dreamlike colour. It has imagery from the circus with floating figures meant to depict the performers.

There is a female figure on a horse, a figure with a hand drum and outlines of human figures forming crowds. This picture is whimsical because of the soft hues compared to other circus-based artwork he had done previously. The soft outline of the figures also lends grace to the movements of the figures.


Chagall loved the circus, and this is a recurring theme in several of his paintings. His painting of the circus was playful and whimsical while incorporating movement to capture the exciting nature of the circus. The Soul of Circus is similar to these themes with the circus performers painted diagonally, vertically and horizontally to capture the movement.

The artist began to use lithography later in his life, and in 1980, Aime Maeght asked him to engrave the most significant coloured lithographs he had ever done. At the time, 93-year-old Chagall engraved thirteen colour lithographs, The Soul of Circus being one of those pieces. Details of the art he produced during this time were characterised by floral bouquets, circus performers, floating figures, and loving couples. This artwork has most of these elements. The painting has been exhibited at the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and in the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.