There are three women: a young girl, an older woman, and another who appears to be pregnant. All of their faces are turned towards us, but they show little expression; only the old lady seems to have any life in her eyes as she looks at us from beneath an improbable red hat.
The Theme of the Artwork
The theme of the artwork is longing and nostalgia for a lost love. This seems to be indicated by the young girl who looks like a child, but with her hand already placed on the shoulder of one of the men, reinforced by Chagall's use of vibrant colors, which link to positive emotional states. The older woman and the pregnant woman, on the other hand, look at us with what can only be described as a kind of death stare; they are both wreathed in a gray hue that suggests there is little to say about either of them.
The Medium Used
Art critics have described Chagall's use of muted colors and halftones as representing a scene viewed through a fog. This acts to give the painting an ethereal feel as if it were not quite of this world, and it seems to bear out the interpretation given above since we can imagine that life like this would be better than no life at all. This point is also illustrated by Chagall's choice of the fishing net as a kind of backdrop - even though it is brightly colored, it also has an abstract quality that reinforces the idea that this is not quite reality.
The Artist's Style
How Chagall uses three-dimensional space in the artwork highlights its flatness and confuses our sense of perspective. The figures and objects in the painting are exactly the same sizes, and we cannot be sure whether they are close to us or far away. This reinforces the idea that this is a kind of dream world since it is reminiscent of an Escher print or one of Salvador Dali's surreal paintings: everything seems normal but at the same time not quite right.
It's Current Location
The painting is one of the best-known works by Marc Chagall and has been reproduced in many formats, including on a postage stamp issued by Israel for its 1951 independence celebrations. The original artwork remains on display at Fogg Art Museum in Boston, MA, USA.