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!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • 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.