Painted in the studio in Vence in 1977-1980, date at which Chagall fed on the light of places in order to create paintings where, between bright colours, shine the most beautiful motifs of his imaginative repertoire.
After a first trip in 1950 to Vence (whose pink roofs float suspended in the painting's background), Chagall moved there permanently in 1966. Everything functions as if the southern light and vegetation contributed to the emergence of a most sumptuous style and as if the magic of colours increased to suit the memories and embraces. With its nuances of blue, its misty greens, its phosphorescent whites, bright reds and yellows, La Mariéé au collier testifies to a diffused alchemy.
The couple occupies the foreground and the centre of the painting, and is dominated by the figure of the young wife whose chest is adorned with a necklace of pearls. This joyful bust has something Venetian about it. It radiates. Caressed by a nuptial veil, the oval face is doubled by the profile of the young husband. The union of souls intensifies the union of hearts. The lovers, a recurring and almost emblematic motif in Chagall's repertory, seem absolutely unmoored. They could be truly floating as the best part of Chagall's figures float. Like the use of an anti-naturalist palette (on the left, the bird's feathers and the green of the trees surrounding it), the negation of the rules of gravity proceed from a feeling of a "great sense of the marvellous" that characterized all the art of the painter from Vitebsk. Inspired by a sense of the perpetual wandering of the soul, (one that Chagall related to his Jewish heritage), the floating figures progressively acquire – in the late paintings in particular – a veritable autonomy. They do not seek any justification other than the gravity of feelings.
Occupying the entire right third of the composition, the bouquet of flowers – also suspended – admirably completes the metaphor of buoyancy. Another of the painter's favourite motifs, it embodies much more than a decorative function. In its infinite textures and colours, it is the receptacle at the same time as the symbol of emotions: those of the painter probably, of desire and love. It is also majestic. In the manner of atmospheric fantasies, Chagall excels in the freedom he takes with scale and perspective. Oversized, the bouquet acquires an equipotent and powerfully joyful alterity.
In a unity of time, of place and of action La Mariée au collier offers an elegant and blissful summary of many of the painter's preferred motifs.