The betrothed and Eiffel tower

Marc Chagall • Painting, 1913, 77×70 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Mythological scene
Style of art: Surrealism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1913
Size: 77×70 cm
Artwork in selections: 83 selections
Exhibitions history

Description of the artwork «The betrothed and Eiffel tower»

The picture The Betrothed and the Eiffel Tower presents Marc Chagall's favourite plot: the flying lovers. The bride can be easily recognized as Chagall's eternal Muse – his wife Bella, while the groom is the artist himself. People defying gravity are frequent characters of Marc Chagall's paintings.

Although it is not entirely true to say that gravity has been defied there. It's not even about defying, which involves some struggle and effort. For the figures depicted by Chagall, flight is natural, like breathing. We don't defy air resistance in order to inhale and exhale it. Neither do the heroes of Chagall's paintings defy gravity – it simply doesn't work in their space.

The Betrothed and the Eiffel Tower shows us the two favourite cities of Chagall. It is difficult not to notice the Eiffel Tower – bright blue, recognizable, it fills the background. And under it there's Vitebsk. The lower right corner leaves no doubt as to the roofs of which city are huddled under the flying angel and the soaring tower. "You can be an artist only in Paris," said Marc Chagall. Сonfessing his infinite love Paris and trying to say his best about it, the artist exclaimed: "Paris, you are my Vitebsk!" And indeed, the two cities surprisingly adjoin in his paintings.

On Chagall’s canvases, there often appears a rooster, a calf, a ram, a goat and other animals. Including a goat-violinist, which became one of Chagall's trademarks. Researchers see in these images some Biblical roots, appealing to animals as a sacrifice and a symbol of the atonement of sins on the one hand, and as the sign of purity and harmony on the other hand. The optimistic, bright and joyful mood of the painting described speaks in favour of the second interpretation. In addition, it should be noted that the images of animals, in particular, goats and roosters, often accompany Chagall's lovers (there is even a picture The Lovers and The Red Rooster). And in this context, there arises a reference to the "Song of songs" as a hymn of love and unity of lovers with nature.

The use of the archetype of pregnancy is also cross-cutting in Marc Chagall's work. The violinist is depicted as if inside a rooster. The similar thing – a child in the mother's womb – can be seen in the painting Motherhood. In The Cattle Dealer the unborn foal is depicted in the mare's belly. This image is also used (although not so straightforwardly) in The Betrothed and the Eiffel Tower and Portrait of Vava, where the lovers are depicted inside the belly of the beloved woman. They symbolize the strength growing from the inside, connecting two people into one, and the kindness with which a woman can nurture and protect love.

In the Betrothed, inside the rooster, which pulled the loving couple from the ground and carried them, happy and dreamy, among the bright variety of Chagall's world (in which angels and goats fly, the double sun shines, and the roads directly connect Vitebsk and Paris) there is a violinist, a symbol of creativity. For Mark Chagall, like no one else, it was love that was the driving force of life and art. He always said that the most important and powerful thing in life is love. And it was the power that brings love and carries lovers from the real place to the infinite one, that brought him inspiration. No matter which woman's name it had.

Author: Alena Esaulova