Marc Chagall, The Israelites Eating the Passover Lamb, detail, 1931. Gouache and oil on paper, Musée national Message Biblique, Nice, France.
Marc Chagall (1887–1985) was born in Belarus to a large, devout Jewish family. Chagall left Russia in 1910 and settled in France. Picasso once remarked, “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is.” In this detail of Chagall’s The Israelites Eating the Passover Lamb, Chagall depicts the angel as a personified flying hero, perhaps even a woman, with a direct and powerful gaze. Her effortless flight, grasping a protective sword, shows the confidence and authority she holds as she presides over the celebration of Passover.