The concept and experience of love for Chagall was an absolutely positive and all-powerful force. While other great 20th century artists have made the expression of sexuality and love central themes in their work, Chagall is practically alone in ardently celebrating the traditional ritual and meaning of marriage, in which human love is exalted and sanctified.
Chagall was married twice. In 1915 he married his beloved Bella in Vitebsk. During World War II Chagall and Bella lived in America, and in the summer of 1944 their spirits were uplifted by the liberation of Paris and the promise of a quick end to the war. It came as a cruel and unexpected blow to the artist when Bella died suddenly of a viral infection in September. Chagall could not work for almost nine months, and when he finally resumed painting many pictures contained references to memories of his marriage to Bella.
The figure of the bride veiled in white is a central symbol in many paintings of this period, which lasted until Chagall's second marriage to Valentina ("Vava") Brodsky in 1952. The bride is Bella, whose fragile and ephemeral presence is also projected in the brilliant bouquet of flowers that surround her. Her partner, who is often dark or spectral and placed off to the side, is the artist. In this world of dream, reality and reverie are reversed, so that Bella's presence is more physical and tangible than that of the artist. The buildings in the background are a recollection of the couple's native Vitebsk. The rooster is emblematic of the natural order of things, serving as eternal witness to the human drama at the center of the artists world.
The dominant tonality in many pictures in the late 1940s and early 1950s is a radiant blue, which attains the luminosity of stained glass. It is on one hand the theme of sadness and mourning, it is also the experience of peace and serenity, the color of heaven and eternity. "The eternal, transcendental Chagallesque blue reveals mans eternal longing for peace, security, eternity. It proceeds to the metaphysical realm where faith endows images with redeeming power" (R. Doschka, Marc Chagall zum 110. Geburtstag, exh. cat., Stadthalle, Balinger, 1986, p. 40).