Nocturne (Night Scene)

Marc Chagall • Painting, 1947, 89×72 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1947
Size: 89×72 cm
Artwork in selections: 37 selections
Audio guide

Description of the artwork «Nocturne (Night Scene)»

The beloved wife of Marc Chagall Bella died in 1944 literally in his arms, speedily and unexpectedly. The artist almost didn’t eat, sleep and even couldn’t think about painting again for some months after this terrible loss. His daughter Ida helped him to return to previous life. Thanks to her, he started painting again, and met Virginia Haggard, who briefly dulled the bitterness of his loss and gave birth to his son. But memories and sorrow about Bella stayed inside him all the time. Apparently he was in big yearning up to his own death.

In 1947, he returned from USA to Paris with his family. Memories about the happy time that he spent here with Bella, rushed to him with new forces. And that point, Сhagall painted Nocturne, the picture of memory, the picture of the farewell. Drawing his beloved in a white funeral shroud, he purpotedly admits to himself at last that she left him forever. He remembers their entire life’s important history and depicts the house on Pakrouskaya street in Vitebsk, in which they lived for the first time after the wedding, under the flying Bella. But the fate is inexorable, and the fiery horse takes his beloved further away from the grieving artist.

To Chagall, the theme of people flying above the ground always was one of the favourite. Soon after his wedding with Bella he painted some of his most significant works, united by this subject. On his famous picture Over the Town, the artist hovers in the sky, lovingly cuddling his beloved in his arms. In The Walk he firmly stands on his feet with a broad smile, holding Bella striving for the flight. In Chagall’s many canvases, flight symbolizes happiness and inspiring love. In Nocturne the flying away Bella becomes the symbol of happiness, the lost and inaccessible one. Chagall depicted his ghostly profile in the folds of her shroud, as if ready to disappear at any moment as irrevocably as did his beloved.