Marc Chagall

The striking duality of “Couple dans la nuit” provides a glimpse into Chagall’s relationship with the divine. The top right half of the work is painted in his signature ‘Chagall Blue’, a colour that became Chagall’s hallmark. Within the blue we see the figure of a cherub and a donkey, often believed to represent his daughter Ida, along with other floating figures.
Chagall’s interest in religious imagery was initiated by his Hasidic Jewish upbringing in Vitebsk and was broadened by the Catholic iconography he discovered during his time in France. These figures represent his conceptualization of heaven and purity, with Chagall suggesting in this work that the purest love is reserved for God and one’s children.

The bright red in the lower part of the picture symbolizes earthly-human love. The couple, who are turned towards each other in deep affection, are accompanied by a hovering angel above them. This conveys a hint of divine blessing and shows that their passion is blessed by a higher power. For Chagall, the separation of heaven and earth by the three figures is a conscious paradigm of the origin of humanity from the divine.

The goat, a symbol of Chagall’s Jewish heritage, is to be seen above all in connection with the role of the animal in the persecution of sin. In Chagall’s childhood home, a red ribbon was tied around the goat’s neck on Yom Kippur before it was released into the wilderness around Vitebsk. It was this action that carried the sin out of the house and, in connection with the lovers depicted here, can be seen as reparation for their sins.

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