Noah and the rainbow
Oil on canvas
205 x 292.5 cm
Balanced by the patches of primary colours – red at the top, yellow on the left and blue on the right – the composition centres on an ellipse highlighting the first covenant between God and his people: the curve of Noah’s sleeping body mirrors that of the rainbow.
The angel – a manifestation of the Divine Word – is white like the rainbow (Chagall shows here that he is aware of colour theory whereby the sum of all the colours of light adds up to white). He announces the blessings promised by this convenant – visible at the top of the painting – as well as the Jews’ suffering, described in the Bible by the prophets and experienced in real life through the course of history.