Being Marc Chagall's Granddaughter Is Gift and Burden for Manhattan Florist

Bella Meyer Reveres Artist's Memory But Blazes Own Path

liz ligon

By Paul Berger

Published April 20, 2014, issue of April 25, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

If you’re the kind of person who has a theme for your Passover Seder, and if your theme this year is Marc Chagall, then you might have hired Bella Meyer for your table’s flower display.

That’s because Meyer, the proprietor of Fleurs Bella, in Manhattan’s East Village, is Chagall’s granddaughter.

One weekday afternoon shortly before Passover, a customer, accompanied by her own floral designer, stopped by Meyer’s store with just such a request.

The three sat down at a small, circular table at the back of the store to discuss the concept and colors.

Meyer, 58, long ago came to terms with the attention that accompanies being the granddaughter of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists.

“It took me many years to realize that I had to be myself and turn what I had learned through my grandfather into something which is mine,” Meyer said. “I am very proud to be his granddaughter, because I love him.”

Meyer, who speaks with a soft French accent, was born in Paris and raised in Switzerland. She has a twin sister, Meret Meyer, who lives in Europe.

Bella is named after her mother’s mother, Bella Rosenfeld, who was Chagall’s beloved first wife and muse.

Meyer grew up in a home where her grandfather was the center of attention, not as the mythic Chagall, but simply as a great painter.

“I always knew my grandfather to be extremely insecure,” Meyer said. “Whatever he did always came from his heart, but he always needed to have an affirmation from people to know if they loved his work.”

As a teenager, Meyer was drawn to art history, theology and religious studies.

“It’s like a message I had gotten from my mother and my grandfather of being attracted to beauty, being attracted to spiritual thoughts, but mostly to bringing joy into life,” she said.

She moved to New York 35 years ago. “I was completely taken by some imaginary New York with jazz, with popular culture, with contemporary art,” she said.

At first she worked at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Later she made theater costumes, masks and puppets.

Finally, 10 years ago, she “went to a flower market and saw the extraordinary beauty and texture and colors of flowers, and I said: ‘Why do I look anywhere else to try to bring this out of what I try to do? Because it’s all there.’”

Rather than “bouquets” or “arrangements,” Meyer refers to her work as “installations.”

Her shop front on East 11th Street is narrow and deep. With its long white walls and wooden pillars and beams, the space feels like a cross between an artist’s studio and a fairy-tale wood.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.