The portrayal of flowers combined with the human figure was an important subject in Chagall's oeuvre as early as 1910, when he painted a series of floral still-lives, including several works with a female figure set off to one side (see F. Meyer, classified catalogue nos. 44-45, 47, 48, 49 and 51). The comingling of these motifs is simple in meaning: the flowers are the extension of a subjective feminine world where the artist may find beauty, sensuality, and affection, a perfumed world far removed from the harsh realities of Russian village life. Recalling the floral paintings by Odilon Redon of an earlier generation, flowers rendered by Chagall alert us to an other-worldy dimension where the lyrical imagination will hold sway. The artist has painting not so much the physical reality of flowers, but the emotional effect they have on him, which in turn is recreated and imparted to the viewer.
In Chagall's paintings, flowers become a manifestation of the abundance as well as the magical qualities of love. It is typical of his paintings that lovers are accompanied by flowers in large, sprawling bouquets. In the present work, the flowers almost obscure the couple out of the picture. The flowers are of course familiar characters in Chagall's visual mythology. They almost invariably stand for himself and his beloved wife Bella. In the years from 1915 she is the most important presence in his paintings, and even after her sudden death in 1944 her pure bridal image still appears like a visitation from the world beyond to console the grieving artist. In 1952 Chagall married Valentina (Vava) Brodsky. He was 62 and she was 40, "intelligent, very much concerned with money affairs, socially ambitious and dedicated to her role as wife of a famous artist..." (S. Alexander, Marc Chagall: A Biography, New York, 1978, p. 449). Nevertheless, as commentators have noted, whenever a bride appears in a Chagall painting, she is Bella, whether in real life or in memory.
Also present in this painting is the moon, an appropriate emblem of the nocturnal scene the artist has set for his lovers, and a bowl at the bottom containing several apples, a reminder of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. Chagall contrasts his famous nocturnal ultramarine blue with the red tones that predominate in the bouquet, creating gentle extremes of coolness and warmth. The surface of the painting is heavily worked; the gouache is applied with an impasto that is more typical of the artist's oil paintings. The overwhelming effect is that of a natural cornucopia of warmth and inner joy, but the surge of emotion is nonetheless tempered by the darker and more serious mystery of human love.