Further, the fiddler’s face seems jolly as he maintains a smile on his face. However, his complexion is a deep shade of green. I believe that this hue represents a sense of uneasiness or discomfort. We generally place a negative connotation when referring to this color ‘on someone’s skin.’ The fiddler may have a content look on his face since he is playing the fiddle- something familiar to him that is associated with his tradition. On the other hand, his green complexion signifies his current situation; he feels as if he cannot stand out because he is a Jew. This confusion brings up some important questions about the fiddler’s relationship to modernity. Does he want to fall back upon his tradition? Does he want to join the rest of his society and ‘come down from his roof’? The fiddler’s green face allows viewers to understand the distance he feels from the rest of his community.
In the top of this work, we see a small person wearing gold above the mountains. I believe that this figure represents an angel, watching over the fiddler. This is justified by this figure’s ability to float above the mountains, a landscape that is normally too high to overcome just by standing. Additionally, the figure is dressed in gold; this color often represents a holy figure or being. The function of the angel in this painting is to serve as protection for the fiddler. As the fiddler may struggle with his current place in the world, the holy being will assure comfort for this man. Chagall’s use of symbolism in this work represents the widely-recognized tension of self-consciousness that is found in modernism. He makes viewers question what their own emotions would be if they found themselves in this situation as well.
Oil on canvas, from the Stediljk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Picture found here: http://www.artandcointv.com/blog/2012/11/marc-chagall-an-undefinable-force/