Memorial to Dag Hammarskjöld
This stained glass panel designed by Marc Chagall (b.1887, Russia - d. 1985, France) and translated into glass through a collaboration with Charles Marq, in Reims, France. Of his work Chagall said, "With all my soul, I wanted to convey the extent of my inspiration and the inspiration of Dag Hammarskjöld and of all those who died for peace. For this was the very purpose for which the UN was founded. In doing this work I was far from any current theories. I should like people to be as moved as I was when I was engaged in this work which was done for people of all countries, in the name of peace and love. The main thing is not to see it but to feel it. In further describing the mural Chagall said, "These colours and these forms must show, in the end, our dreams of human happiness, as we conceive it today. On the right hand side of this panel you will see mankind, with its yearning for peace, its prophets and its victims. In the center is the symbol of peace itself. On the left, above and below, are depicted motherhood and the people who are struggling for peace.
Music and text inspired Chagall in creating the window’s scheme. Symbols evoke Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a favorite piece of Hammarskjöld, and imagery is drawn directly from a passage in the New Testament. The passage, Isaiah IX 1-6, concludes with the following words: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
The contours of a central tree divide the window into two halves. The left half depicts a peaceful and joyous universe in which naked human beings and animals float about at random. The infamous snake is visible near the base of the tree. The right half’s action is more directed: a teeming mass crowds toward a figure of the crucified Christ in the upper right-hand corner. They come from a walled city to the left (visible in the upper third of the window), above which an angel with golden wings floats down to deliver the 10 Commandments. Lower down, a woman draped in a red cloak bows to the tree in grief, and a tiny baby, perhaps with a self-portrait face of Chagall, waves out to the spectator of the window. The work is done using the Grisaille technique of stained glass. Grisaille is the name of a gray, vitreous pigment used in the art of coloring glass for stained glass. In French, grisaille has also come to mean any painting technique in which translucent oil colors are laid over a monotone under-painting.