Song of Songs V
Oil on canvas
150 x 226 cm
The composition is organised around two hillsides. Each of these depicts a city: on the right, Chagall’s home town of Vitebsk, ever identifiable by the green-domed cathedral, and on the left, Jerusalem. To avoid any confusion, on the far left the artist has painted King David’s throne surrounded by lions from the Tribe of Judah, on which “Jerusalem” has been inscribed in Hebrew letters.
In a sky packed with dancing figures there is a brightly coloured sun, in the form of the star of David. David takes up a large part of the left-hand side – his long purple silhouette topped with a bird’s head as his music is evocative of that of birds and angels. He is floating towards a bride surrounded by fruit and flowers – promises of descendants.
The most important characters are larger than the others in this unrealistic depiction.