Marc Chagall

Mariage au grand bouquet stands as a significant piece within Chagall’s later works. True to its name, the composition is centred around a sizable bouquet and features a couple in the midst of a marriage ceremony. On the right, the bride and groom stand close under a red chuppah, a canopy central to the Jewish wedding ceremony, symbolising the home they will build together. This couple unmistakably represents Chagall and his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld. Their story began in Chagall’s hometown of Vitebsk, now Belarus, culminating in their marriage in 1915 and nearly three decades of shared life. Bella’s death in 1944 deeply affected the artist. However, even in this later stage of his life, he continued to honour her memory through many of his works.
The theme of the wedding couple also serves as a reference to a story recounted by Bella in her memoirs. She vividly recalled watching a wedding in her local town as a child. In her words, the bride appeared »like a bright cloud […] first and foremost in a long white dress that trailed along the ground like something living, the whole covered by an airy veil. Through it, as through glass, the bride herself seemed far away.«
In this piece, the joyous festivities of a wedding in Vitebsk come to life through the laden table adorned with wine and fruit, symbolising abundance. Positioned to the left of this table is a small donkey – a touching reference to Chagall’s deep affection for his daughter Ida, fondly nicknamed »little donkey«. The figures in the crowd, depicted in shades of grey, seamlessly merge with the receding houses. The circular heads of the extensive crowd also appear on the white vase, enabling a seamless transition from the human to the object – an area of great expertise for Chagall. The bouquet of flowers symbolises nature’s beauty and renewal, and their purple, yellow, white and red bloom, seamlessly compliments the scene, as it does in other similar works conducted in the subsequent years.

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