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Marc Chagall: The Original Human Couple, at the Heart of the Tree of Life

Marc Chagall: The Original Human Couple, at the Heart of the Tree of Life


“There is only one colour in our lives that gives meaning to life and art: the colour of love,” writes Marc Chagall. According to him, the colour of love can sometimes be blue, if for example he wants to express maternal love. This is what we see in his painting The Madonna of the Village, all surrounded by blue, or in the soft blue image of the section of the stained glass entitled Motherhood at the foot of the Tree of Life. But when it comes to the image of original human love, Chagall is not limited to a single colour. On this stained glass window, he uses white and gold for the colours of Adam’s and Eve’s characters, which are surrounded by other colours such as dark blue and bright red, pale yellow and soft green.

Chagall placed, at the heart of the Tree of Life and carried by it, the original human couple. “The first man and the first woman,” writes Éloi Leclerc, “stand side by side in the light, at the call of the Creator. It is as if, with the coming of the human couple, the whole of creation opens up and vibrates in the light. The large multicolored bouquet makes perfect sense here: it is to welcome and celebrate the first man and woman that The Tree of Life has put on its festive dress…”

According to the first account of Genesis, God, on the sixth day of creation, wanting to crown his work, said to himself: “Let us make man in our image, as our likeness’’. Haydn, in his Oratorio Creation, put to music this passage of Genesis told with simple and familiar words and to joyful and enthusiastic music similar to ‘a hymn to love’:

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

In dignity and greatness clad with beauty, strength, and courage endowed, his face towards heaven raised, stands man: a man and the king of nature. His wide, arched, high forehead discloses the seat of his wisdom, and from his clear eyes beams his soul; he is the breath and image of his Creator. On his breast there leans, for him and out of him formed, sweet woman full of grace. In happy innocence she laughs; Spring’s fascinating likeness, she brings him love, happiness, and delight.

And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good; and the heavenly choir celebrated the end of the sixth day, with loud singing.

Completed is the great work; the Creator sees it and rejoices. Therefore let our joy ring loudly out! Let God’s praise be our song!

«Chagall saw that the human couple was the object of special attention in the Bible, writes Éloi Leclerc. At the Museum of Nice, he allocated a significant space to the Song of Songs, a true celebration of the love that unites man and woman. Here we touch on what is deepest in the human being, but also in creation. For man only truly finds himself in his truth and depth, by opening himself up to the very source of the relationship: creative love. »

The true love of man and woman does not enclose them unto themselves, but opens them to the immensity of Creation.