According to Richard Curtis, the screenwriter of the movie and also a huge fan of Marc Chagall’s work, the painting depicts a yearning for something that is lost, which is why it fits perfectly with that scene in the movie. Also, later on in the movie Robert’s character presents what is presumably the original painting to Grant’s character as a gift.
Another striking thing about the painting, if one were to concentrate and notice, is the fact that there is a use of only 3-4 colors. Despite this, Chagall managed to create such remarkable images which not only captures his imaginations well but also attracts and retains the viewer’s attention effortlessly!
La Mariee, painted in 1950, is a splendid example of Chagall’s highly impressive works. When translated in English, the title of the painting means ‘The Bride’. Just as it is with every marriage, even this painting follows the tradition of highlighting the bride. The ‘bride’ in question here is dressed in a vibrant red gown with a virginal white long veil and holding a bouquet of flowers, the quasi-wedding attire.
She exudes joy and sensuality. The soft blue and grey background of the painting adds a lovely contrast, so much so that it makes the bride and her attire stand out more, as though she is about to jump off the canvas! Some may also interpret the blue and grey background as dull and portraying gloominess, sadness and darkness; but of course, just like any other art piece or painting, when it comes to interpretation the phrase ‘To each his own’ definitely applies!
While most of Chagall’s paintings feature couples or young women, this one is focused only on a singular young woman. The beautiful young woman is presented to the viewers in such a conspicuous and bold manner that it seems as though it is the viewer to whom she is intended for marriage! However, some would argue that it is the man beside her who is holding her veil who is her husband. Art connoisseurs and fans have described this painting as an ode to young love because of the vibes it gives off.
What’s unique about this wedding scene is that the band of animals in the frame. On the bride’s left is the famous goat playing a violin, whom Robert’s character has highlighted in the movie Notting Hill by saying ‘Yes, happiness isn’t happiness without a violin-playing goat!’. There is a man hanging over the bride’s head on her right, whose hands are on her veil. There is a church visible in the background, which almost seems like it has been added as an afterthought.
There is also a fish in the sky holding what seems to be the legs of a chair and a candle, a girl with pigtails, a man playing a flute and a squirrel! Thus, the wild imagination in this painting is bound to capture anyone’s attention and it also brings life to the painting of an otherwise conventional theme, i.e. bride/wedding! Fans of Chagall’s works have described the painting as unconventionally refreshing because of the artist’s ability to dream and imagine beyond society constraints.
Marc Chagall was a Russian-French artist and an early modernist belonging to the nineteenth century. Apart from paintings, he is also known for his book illustrations, stained glass arts, stage sets, fine art prints, tapestries and ceramic art pieces. Associated with the modern movement, most of Chagall’s inspirations are drawn from the Belarusian folk life.
In fact, his art pieces reflected the Jewish heritage and culture in addition to emotions like pleasure, happiness, kindness, etc. His paintings are extremely rich in myth, wherein air-borne humans, animals and monsters are used generously and without observing the law of gravity, as in the case with La Mariee painting.
What is most striking about Chagall’s paintings is that just like fairy tales, the images put together in the paintings float through the observer’s intellectual thinking and tap into the very essence of human beings! There are many ways to go about deducing Chagall’s paintings because these are so multi-dimensional in nature and often with profound hidden meanings.