Romance is a recurring theme in Chagall’s œuvre and often a reference to Chagall’s first wife, Bella. Although Bella unexpectedly passed away in 1944, she continued to serve as Chagall’s primary muse throughout the artist's career. When Chagall married Bella, he was met with hesitancy from Bella’s family, who preferred that she marry someone with a more stable source of income. Their relationship was special as it represented the true expression of love—the willingness to cross societal norms for lifelong affection. The passion between the lovers depicted in Nu à la montagne is representative of that special love, one which followed him wherever he travelled.
Chagall had settled into a house that he built with his wife Vava in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence a year prior to executing the present work. Therefore, the deep blue mountains in the background of Nu à la montagne likely represent the French Alps. The vibrant bouquet of flowers which the male figure extends toward his muse, adorned with a necklace reflecting the vivid colours of the bouquet, is emblematic of Chagall’s adoration of flora. Indeed, André Verdet writes: ‘Marc Chagall loved flowers. He delighted in their aroma, in contemplating their colours... There were always flowers in his studio. In his work bouquets of flowers held a special place... Usually they created a sense of joy, but they could also reflect the melancholy of memories’ (quoted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall: A Retrospective, Fairfield, 1995, p. 347). The use of colour and subject matter make Nu à la montagne emblematic of Chagall's most romantic works.
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