Oil on canvas
160.3 x 159.5 cm
Musée national d’art moderne - Centre de Création Industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, entrusted to the Musée national Marc Chagall
Although its title has a Christian connotation, this painting alludes to the Jewish Easter rituals, which explains its sombre atmosphere. Typical of the artist’s latter years, the composition hinges on violent splashes of colour that are deliberately off-kilter.
The bottom half, engulfed in black and white, illustrates the dramatic night in which all of the first-born sons of Egypt died – except the Hebrews – in a landscape that nevertheless resembles more the Russian villages of Chagall’s youth.
The setting of the Easter meal is the same as the one in the Bible gouache paintings from 1931, which was itself inspired by a Haggadah from the 15th century.
Two large figures cut through the top half, emerging from the roofs: one, an angel – undoubtedly a divine manifestation bringing death in its wake – and the other, a goat’s head – the symbol that protects the home – set off in yellow, which is also the colour of the divine.