One of the most taking sights in this painting is of Jesus’ crucifixion. It seems like he’s wearing a tallit as he was in another Chagall painting, a sign that could be taken two ways. One way in which to address that is it’s derogatory toward Jews, almost as if crucifying them along with their religion. However, it could also be seen as Chagall relating his artwork through his own religion. He could feel very connected to his Judaism, and desires to express various times in the Jews’ lives as a nation. The red circle behind Jesus’ head can be viewed as a halo. Jesus’ crucifixion scene is larger than the buildings below him, an implication of the hieratic scale. Perhaps the small town, or shtetl, is just a background for all of the scenes depicted; it’s a place for the story to unravel. This story seems to be various points in history, perhaps Jewish history. The grandfather clock in the top of the painting could be a literal sign for time. The man above the Jew has a sickly green skin, which, as we noted in class, could be seen as greed or an illness. It’s more likely to be a sickness because this painting seems to depict hard times, and he’s bent in half, holding a cane.
There’s a goat at the bottom of the painting, something that seems to pop up a lot in Chagall’s work. This could relate to small towns or villages, kind of like The Fiddler on the Roof because of the goat and the violin. This could be representative of shtetl life. The main focus of this painting would be the falling angel. The angel is a very vibrant red, which helps attract the eye, and the domineering size attests to importance. We typically don’t think of angels falling from Heaven, but this could be a symbol of wrongdoing, or bad things to come. This could be a bad sign of Jewish life, and how anti-Semitism negatively reflected on the Jews.