“Stained glass looks quite simple: the material is light itself. For a cathedral of a synagogue, the phenomenon is the same: something mystical that passes through the window” - Marc Chagall
In 1957 Marc Chagall began his design for twelve stained glass windows for the synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem. Although having produced stained glass windows for churches and cathedrals previously, it was his first furore into designing for a building of his own religion. Displaying the twelve tribes of Israel the windows were first displayed at the Louvre in Paris and Museum of Modern Art in New York before being permanently installed at the synagogue in 1962.
A book of lithographs for the stained-glass windows entitled ‘Vitraux pour Jerusalem’ was published in 1961. ‘Rêve nocturne de deux clowns en rouge’ is based on a fourth preliminary study for one of the windows – ‘La Tribu de Juda’ – depicted in the book of lithographs. Here, Chagall has drawn over the lithograph to create a new fantastical drawing. Typical of Chagall’s dreamlike imagery, in the present scene one clown sits on top of another. The upper clown wears an anthropomorphic mask, representational of inspiration and creativity, while the lower clown resembles the artist pointing at himself.