Marc Chagall

“Nu allongé et chèvre, la nuit”, or Reclining nude and goat, at night, shows Chagall’s interpretation of the canonical reclining nude. Lit by the crescent moon, the female lies rigid across the bed. While often Chagall’s nudes exude sensuality and raw emotion, this nude is almost lifeless. Beyond their physicality, Chagall’s nudes carry symbolic weight, representing universal themes such as love and vulnerability, while also acting as autobiographical elements, weaving his personal experiences and relationships into his art. His nudes exist in a dreamlike and fantastical realm, often appearing weightless and intertwined with other elements in his compositions. A couple of his repeatedly used motifs can also be observed such as the bouquet which lies at the end of the bed, symbolising romance and beauty, and adjacent is a suspended goat. For Chagall, goats were not only a reference to his religion, particularly in the context of sacrifices and rituals, but since his art often transcends the ordinary, and goats in his work are used to represent a connection between the earthly and the divine or to symbolize transformation and transcendence.
The potency of the rich blues used to colour this painting dominates the composition. In the 60’s Chagall, inspired by his work with stained glass windows, continued to experiment with colour working again with dominant hues. He uses luminous shades of blue to suggest depth, highlights, and shadows effectively in this work while allowing an all-over sense of nocturnal enchantment. Chagall was never confined to one modernist style. In this image, we can see some fauvist techniques such as his saturated blue hues and the simplified way he has depicted forms allowing the surface of the canvas to explain how gouache can be manipulated. The blue background is also filled with loose, quick, multidirectional brushstrokes highlighting the artist’s hand. Additionally, the dream-like impression of the image, as well as the state of the slumber of the nude, demonstrates Chagall’s continued exploration of autonomism Chagall used when painting.

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