The piece is in the French Avant-garde style which was very popular at the time, while the subject matter, a brightly painted fiddler floating above the rooftops of a traditional village, hints at Chagall's roots in Russian Hassidic Judaism, where the musician would be the central figure at public events and celebrations. The cultural connotations are so clear-cut that it is said this painting strongly inspired the 1964 Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof. The village depicted in the painting has muted grey-brown tones, while contrasting, bright colours are used to depict the green violinist. The violin itself takes centre stage with its warm brown-orange tones.
As the title suggests, the green violinist's skin is a dark green in colour. This makes his face stand out against the flat cap and long, flowing overcoat that he wears, both of which are bright purple. The coat has a triangular two-toned pattern of light and dark shades. This hints at both complexity and showmanship. The green violinist's gloves, shoes and trousers are also painted in contrasting colours. They, too, are two-toned, in black and white, and the patterns are used to achieve an asymmetric effect.
The green violinist is separate from the everyday villagers, and yet he seems to be attached to them. His trousers depict what appear to be windows and rooftops, suggesting that while he stands above the crowd, he is grounded and connected to the villagers and their homes. Although the village seems extremely quiet with swathes of empty, spacious land, the green violinist is not alone. A young man dressed in brown appears to be soaring freely through the clouds behind the fiddler. Other people, as well as animals on the ground, appear to be looking and reaching upwards. Even the ladder on the tree suggests that anyone can somehow climb skyward and join the green violinist.
The world above, where the fiddler stands, is a real place and everyone aspires to be a part of it. Interesting perspectival features are used to show both the connection and contrast between the world of the green violinist and everyday village life. One of the dogs appears to be tall enough to reach the rooftop of a house. It is no match for the giant, god-like proportions of the green violinist. However, it symbolises that reaching such mythic heights of freedom and creativity is possible for all.