However, after a few months at the school, Chagall realized that academic portrait painting did not suit his desires.
Marc Chagall, 1912, Calvary (Golgotha), oil on canvas, 174.6 × 192.4 cm, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Sold through Galerie Der Sturm (Herwarth Walden), Berlin to Bernhard Koehler (1849–1927), Berlin, 1913.
During a pogrom, Chagall wrote that: "The street lamps are out.
Chagall wrote of these early years: Day after day, winter and summer, at six o'clock in the morning, my father got up and went off to the synagogue. Buttered bread, like an eternal symbol, was never out of my childish hands.He had two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist.He experienced modernism's "golden age" in Paris, where "he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism".The young Chagall explained, "There's a place in town; if I'm admitted and if I complete the course, I'll come out a regular artist. " It was 1906, and he had noticed the studio of Yehuda (Yuri) Pen, a realist artist who also operated a small drawing school in Vitebsk, which included the future artists El Lissitzky and Ossip Zadkine.Due to Chagall's youth and lack of income, Pen offered to teach him free of charge.
Chagall would later say that there was no art of any kind in his family's home and the concept was totally alien to him.