Throughout his career Chagall never abandoned the symbols of his unique painterly vocabulary. The recurrent imagery of his paintings is suggestive of both the folk art and icons of his native Russia and the Hasidic traditions of the community in Vitebsk where he was raised. Although Chagall's primary concern was always the visual effectiveness of the composition, the symbols that he drew upon evoke a fantastical dreamworld that can be seen as an allegory of the rhythm of life. In the present painting Chagall conjures up images of a cock, a strolling musician, a painted woman, the skyline and synagogue of Vitebsk, two lovers, the moon and a fish. Interpretable as symbols of his religious heritage, childhood memories and romantic ideal, the seemingly haphazard manner in which they are arranged intentionally diffuses our temptation to read them as pure text and, instead, reaffirms the timeless quality of his world. As Chagall explained, "They have ceased to function as signs, they are nothing more than indifferent materials--I often turn my pictures upside down to work on them without seeing what I am doing--It is as if the fantasy were corroded from within by the painting . . . I do anything, it is the voice that matters not what one sings" (quoted in P. Schneider, Marc Chagall, New York, 1979, exh. cat., intro.). According to Virginia MacNeil who was Chagall's companion between 1945 and 1952, Chagall felt an affinity with the cocks and chickens kept by his parents and "their cheerful noise created an atmosphere of familiarity. (They were) never pets for him, they have a universal character" (quoted in S. Alexander, Marc Chagall: A Biography, Toronto, 1978, p. 38). Throughout the 1960s Chagall worked increasingly with designs for stained glass and the intense color and use of black in the present painting is suggestive of this medium.