Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of CanadaFranciscains du Canada

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

Marc Chagall: The Rainbow, Sign of Alliance between God and Earth

Marc Chagall: The Rainbow, Sign of Alliance between God and Earth

 

This water-colour by Marc Chagall: The Rainbow, sign of alliance between God and the earth, painted in 1931 reminds us of this more recent drawing of mid-march 2020, presented here: all will be fine.

At that time, the Corona Virus pandemic was gaining ground in Canada and especially in Quebec while Italy was in its 5th week of confinement. Gabriella Cucinelli, an Italian woman who had been living in Quebec City for eight years, then sought a message of hope to face the situation. This message, she found in the Italian media displaying a rainbow drawing with these words: It’s going to be fine. This poster was spreading through the streets of Italy at lightning speed. This mother of two elementary school students then imported the Italian Rainbow into Quebec.

Chagall drew the Rainbow, a sign of the covenant between God and the earth at least three times during his long artistic career. He painted a large picture of the Biblical Message and also two paintings of the rainbow: one, seen by day and the other, seen by night. The one presented here is the nocturnal. At the very top in the center we see a celestial creature, all white on the black sky, a bearded angel dressed in a tunic, in simple profile, the right hand raised to bless. He seems to be hanging in space half hidden by his multy-coloured rainbow, with eight colors …

At the bottom, there is Noah the Patriarch, seated, almost lying down, all dressed in black, bare feet and hands offered, his head wrapped in a shawl, also black, with a long white beard and the figure illuminated by the celestial vision. He has his mouth open to welcome the word of Yahweh, and his eyes are wide open, amazed. The curve of the Rainbow initiates an almost perfect semicircle that could end in a circle at the bottom following the outer curvature of Noah’s body. The man is completely lying on the ground on his back as he contemplates the rainbow drawn in the sky by an angelic being. His face is amazed at these magnificent colours that his eyes see for the first time.

The rainbow, is a sign of the covenant between God and the earth. God spoke to Noah and his sons, ·”See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.” God said, “Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh. ·When the bow is in the clouds I shall see it and call to mind the lasting Covenant between God and every living creature of every kind that is found on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the Covenant I have established between myself and every living thing that is found on the earth.” (Gn. 9 : 8-17)