An exhibition dedicated to Marc Chagall, the painter that alongside Picasso and Robert Delaunay inspired so many of the 20th-century’s poets, writers and art critics, opens in Mantua.

The exhibition features 130 pieces in total, including the complete cycle of seven canvases painted by Chagall in 1920 for the auditorium of the Jewish Theatre in Moscow; superb pieces of art that represent the most revolutionary and least nostalgic moment of his artistic career. The canvases represent an exceptional loan from the Tretjakov State Gallery in Moscow and are rarely seen in Italy: they were exhibited in Milan in 1994 and in Rome in 1999 after the 1992 exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York and at the Art Institute in Chicago in 1993. The exhibition will endeavour to use the seven paintings to recreate the original interior of the auditorium of the Jewish Theatre, a space of 40 square feet for which Chagall created, apart from the paintings, the ceiling decorations, the curtain, the costumes and the sets for three plays.

A selection of signature paintings and watercolours by Marc Chagall from the years 1910-1918 will accompany the immersive setting of the auditorium of the Jewish Theatre, together with a series of etchings made between 1923 and 1939, including the illustrations for Gogol’sDead Souls, for Lafontaine’s Fables and for the Bible.

Marc Chagall come nella Pittura, così nella Poesia (Marc Chagall: Painting and Poetry) will be hosted in the Palazzo della Ragione, a medieval gem decorated with a marvellous cycles of frescoes in the heart of the city, which for centuries was the seat of Mantua’s government.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa which explores the artistic and cultural influences that Chagall absorbed by living in Vitebsk, Saint Petersburg, Paris and Moscow and narrates the attraction the Russian painter exerted on poets, artists and writers in the early 20th century through specially-commissioned translations of essays and pieces written by contemporary critics, intellectuals and poets.