The artist would leave behind a large and varied oeuvre which took in a great variety of content in several different mediums. His paintings are, of course, the most famous of all, but behind many of them was a series of preparatory drawings which laid the foundations for the final piece. These drawings would vary in levels of detail, and perhaps the example in front of us here was very much in the early stages as Chagall just attempted to get some ideas together on how the final work could be structured. Only once he was clearer in his mind would he then start to expend more time on considering particular elements more closely. We can see a fairly abstract work here, with just simple outlines used to form multiple figures across the artwork. In the foreground we find three or four main figures, with just heads then included for those in the background.
This study to Exodus was produced using pencil on paper and is only a few cms in width and height. It is likely to have been made within a sketchbook before later being removed and kept separately, perhaps in order for it to be reviewed by the artist as he continued to prepare for the later painting. This process of rough sketching within notebooks has been around for centuries, and used by artists across a wide variety of different styles and movements. Even the likes of Monet and Turner would do the same, often whilst outdoors admiring some of their local landscapes. You will then later find still life artists who might tackle objects from different angles, as well as sculptors who would prepare for that medium in much the same way as well.
Chagall was an imaginative artist, who used bright colour to illustrate all manner of dream-like scenes. Drawing was an important part of how he planned and delivered these artworks, and so interest in his drawings continues to be strong. You will see some of these items come up for sale from time to time and they will normally achieve good prices, such is the interest in this artist. In terms of his career highlights many consider the likes of I and the Village, La Mariée and Paris through the Window although there were hundreds of exciting artworks in total to be found within this extensive career which spanned many decades. He today is regarded as one of the most important artists from right across the 20th century and his reputation has spread to an international audience.