White Crucifix - Mark Zagarovich Chagall. 155 x 140 cm
One of the best and tragic paintings by Marc Chagall, “The White Crucifix”, was written by the artist after the Jewish pogroms in Germany, which went down in history as “Crystal Night”. As a Jew, Chagall deeply experienced the political situation in Europe, dictating outright anti-Semitism. Very little time will pass, and the painter himself will hardly escape the concentration camp, and therefore it is not surprising that many of his paintings of this period reflect the terrifying reality of the Holocaust.
It is noteworthy that as a Jew, the artist chose the image of Christ crucified on the cross (Judaism does not recognize Jesus as Savior) as the main symbol of the tragedy of the Jewish people. The suffering Christ personifies the suffering Jews at Chagall - an attentive viewer will immediately find hints of this identification. On Jesus’s head there is not a crown of thorns, but a thales, an element of the prayer vestments of the Jews, and a menorah-minor is burning at the feet.
At the bottom of the cross, Chagall depicted scenes of Nazi atrocities, and at the top of the picture are Old Testament characters who cry from the horrors of what they saw. The figure of a wanderer in green vestments is usually interpreted as the prophet Elijah, and the ark ship as a symbol of possible salvation. Also in the picture you can see the red communist flags and the flag of the still independent Lithuania.
The plot in the lower left corner of the canvas is deeply tragic - a Jew with outstretched arms. On his chest we see a white plate, which previously represented an inscription in Yiddish: "I am a Jew." But Chagall decided to paint over it, as well as the swastika on the sleeve of a Nazi burning synagogue.
The accusatory painting “The White Crucifix” was a premonition of even greater destruction and inhuman killings, and makes an incredible strong impression. A curious fact is that this is the favorite work of Pope Francis.