The Peace Window

The History - The Bible Text - The Music - List of all Chagall windows

The ‘Peace Window’ was a gift from the United Nations staff memebers, as well as Marc Chagall himself, presented to the United Nations as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjøld.

The ‘Peace Window’ was dedicated to his memory on 17 September 1964, exactly three years after Dag Hammarskjøld, then the second Secretary-General of the UN, and 15 other people with him died in a plane crash.

In the centre the contours of the paradisiacal tree divide the panel in two parts. On the left side, in a peaceful universe, nude humans and animals float at random in blissful ignorance. Near to the tree’s root is the snake. More to the top, a red bunch of roses, of which the base is formed by a nude male figure, catches the eye.

On the right side of the panel is an energetic group of human beings, which towards the right top corner amasses around the cross of Christ. The group appears to come from a walled city in the distance, one holding the lighted menora .

Above this city from the top part of the tree a large angle hands out the Ten Commandments. The right part of the panel centers on the fully clothed feminine figure. which bows towards the tree in grief. Behind her is a couple with a child. On the base of the tree is a small nude baby waiving at the spectator; its head possibly reflecting Marc Chagall’s own portrait.

The Music

The musical symbols in the panels evoke thoughts of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which was a favorite of Dag Hammarskjøld. The panel itself inspired to music and dance.

The Text

Marc Chagall was inspired for the design of the ‘Peace Window’ by Isaiah IX, 1-6 .

Including the border the size of the window measures 358 cm high by 538 cm wide. Today, it is located in the Eastern side of the Visitors’ Lobby of the United Nations Building.

The images from the window are inspired by the Bible text

Isaiah 9, 1 - 7

  1. Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
  2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
  3. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
  4. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
  5. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
  6. 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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
  7. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

List of all Windows by Marc Chagall

For a full description, please see ‘Chagall, L’Oeuvre Monumental: Les Vitraux’ by Sylvie Forestier, Jaca Books, Milan 1987.

Assy, France
Notre-Dame de Toute Grace
1956 - 1957

Moissac, France
Eglise Abbatiale Saint-Pierre
Chapelle du Saint Sacrement

Metz, France
Cathedrale Saint-Etienne
1959 - 1960, 1962, 1963 - 1964, 1968

Jerusalem, Israel
Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre
1960 ­ 1962

New York. USA
UN Building, United Nations
1963 - 1964

Tarrytown, USA
Pocantico Hills, The Union Church
1963 - 1966

Tudeley, United Kingdom
All Saints Church
1967, 1974, 1978

Zürich, Switzerland Fraumünster
1969 - 1970

Nice, France
Musée National Message Bibliotheque
1971 - 1972

Reims, France
Cathedrale Notre-Dame
1973 - 1974

Chicago, USA
The Art Institute
1976 - 1979

Chichester, United Kingdom
Catherdral of the Holy Trinity

Sarrebourg, France
Chapelle des Cordeliers
1976 ­ 1978

Mainz, Germany
Sankt Stephan Kirche
1977 ­ 1984

Le Saillant, France
Eglise Paroissiale
1978 ­ 1982