Song of Songs III

Marc Chagall, Song of Songs III, 1960. Gouache on oil and paper, Musee National Marc Chagall, Nice, France.

This painting is one of five in a cycle of works by the master French painter Marc Chagall (1887–1985). The collection beautifully illustrates the Song of Songs, a book from the Hebrew Bible that celebrates love and sexual desire between a man and a woman. Rather than illustrating the text, Chagall visually represents three themes from the book: the lyrical, the sacred, and the sensual. The Song has been interpreted in many ways, both as a love poem between a man and a woman and as an allegory representing the love between man and God. The betrothed couple become one as they ascend to the heavens, eye level with the angels. The figures watch over the workaday scene below—animals grazing, a woman carrying her load and a quaint town resting under the night sky.

Marc Chagll, Song of Songs III.  Gouache and oil on paper, 1960.  Musée du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall, Nice, France.

A mode of writing, reading, or interpreting that operates on a symbolic, rather than literal, level.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

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