The sacrifice of Isaac
Oil on canvas
230 x 235 cm
Abraham is on the verge of sacrificing his son when the angel stays his arm. The composition, characterised by the separation of drawing from colour, presents two halves.
In the top half, the angel – a manifestation of the Divine Word – has merely been outlined on the blue sky. But on the right the suffering of Abraham’s descendants has been illustrated – something Chagall recalls time and again through the image of mother-and-child and a scene of Christ the martyr – symbolising the Jews’ plight in his painting.
In the lower half, the group of Abraham and his son is coloured by the flame of the holocaust. Isaac’s body – abandoned in the same way as Adam’s in The creation of man, is also evidence of man’s submission to God.