Jacob wrestling with the angel
Oil on canvas
251 x 205 cm
Along with Jacob’s dream, this painting forms a triptych and again presents a night-time scene dominated by deep blues and purples. The composition is brought to life by the crossed diagonal lines of the angel and Jacob, who has fallen to his knees upon recognising his opponent. Their struggle is over and the angel seems to be blessing Jacob by touching his forehead.
The scene takes place high up in the sky, above a village where Chagall’s family home in Vitebsk can be picked out. Once again, the artist weaves his own story into that of the Jewish people.
Some of the episodes in the patriarch’s life unfold down the right-hand side: his encounter with Rachel at the well, the vision of his son Joseph stripped by his brothers and thrown in a well and finally his anguished sobbing over the coat of his son who he believe has died – curled up in the position that Chagall generally uses to depict the prophets announcing the Jews’ suffering.