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Celebrating The June Wedding
June is the month for weddings. Celebrating this month, we have created a post that is dedicated to the different aspects of the wedding. Starting off with a look at William Johnson's The Wedding Couple. Next, we take a look at Henri Rousseau's The Wedding Party. And of course, the wedding dress is very important, and a perfect example is The Bride by Gari Melchers. When you think of a wedding, I bet one of the top things is that you envision are flowers. Abraham Mignon created A Hanging Bouquet of Flowers which is just perfection. Whether you are solum or silly walking towards where you will say your vows everyone has some kind of procession which is depicted by Edward Burne-Jones' painting the Wedding of Psyche. Peter Paul Rubens paints a wonderful wedding ceremony with his The Wedding by Proxy of Marie de' Medici to King Henry IV. Of course, locations have a high important too. Here is one location that had many weddings painted by Vincent van Gogh called the Old Church Tower. There are many religious and spiritual aspects of the union of two people and a great painting is The Wedding of The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese. And, after the ceremony is all done the party will truly begin. Here is an example of what this festival typically will look like with Jan Steen's A Wedding Party. But one thing that ties all together is Love and Double Portrait with Wine Glass by Marc Chagall.

No 1. The Wedding Couple

Wedding Couple
The Wedding Couple ca. 1940 William A. Johnson (1901-1970) Smithsonian American Art Museum
William Henry Johnson worked hard to put himself through art school at the National Academy of Design. There he received the respect of other students, and teachers. He also won several awards. He initially worked in Modernism but turned to the tenets of primitivism and folk art for his everyday paintings of America. This is “The Wedding Couple,” it is a typical of his later paintings. Color, and symbols were important to Johnson’s art. If you look at the groom’s collar it looks a lot like a cross.

No. 2 The Wedding Party

A Wedding Party
The Wedding Party 1905 Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) Musée de l’Orangerie
The identities of the bride and groom are in Rousseau’s “Wedding Party” are not known. We do know which figure is Rousseau though, he is the man on the right, behind the bride. Rousseau is considered a Naïve, or Primitive Post-Impressionist artist. He was more influenced by design, shape, and color than realism. Rousseau was self-taught. He learned by copying works at the Louvre. Rousseau often placed his friends and family in his paintings. The painting is possibly from a photo, which could explain why the bridal party looks so flat, and the bride looks like she is floating.

No. 3 The Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress
The Bride by Gari Melchers ca 1907 courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gari Melcher was an expatriate who studied in Dusseldorf and Paris and set up a studio in Holland. He painted in an academic style that reflected the influences of Impressionism and is best known for his renderings of Dutch villagers, often in religious observance. He was one of the leading American proponents of naturalism. You can explore his life with a visit at the Gari Melchers Home & Studio.

No. 4 The Wedding Flowers

Bouquet of flowers
A Hanging Bouquet of Flowers, probably 1665/1670 by Abraham Mignon courtesy National Gallery of Art, D.C.
Throughout his short career Mignon painted a variety of still-life subjects, but he is best known for his lush compositions of flowers and fruits placed on stone ledges and in niches, or set within ruins and grottos. He developed a distinct style marked by precise detail and drawing.

No 5. The Wedding Procession

Wedding of Psyche 1895 Edward Burne-Jones Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium
Edward Burne-Jones was a second-generation member of the Pre-Raphaelites. In addition to being a master painter, he was gifted at the decorative art of stained glass. Like most the Pre-Raphaelites, Burne-Jones loved painting myths, and other big epic stories. The story of Psyche comes from Greek mythology, the word Psyche means soul. It is a story of immortal love. Unfortunately, it begins with Psyche being cursed to marry a hideous man/beast/monster. This is her wedding procession as she is walked to the rock where she will wait for her fate. Her journey to her happy ending will be an epic one, she will plead with goddesses, and complete Herculean tasks

No 6. The Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Ceremony
The Wedding by Proxy of Marie de' Medici to King Henry IV 1622–25 Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) The Louvre
Marie de’ Medici commissioned Peter Paul Rubens to create a series of paintings for her. Rubens made 24 paintings, that mostly commemorate important moments in the French Queen’s life. All the people in the wedding painting can be identified, including Marie’s uncle who stands in for the King. The mythological god of marriage, Hymenaeus, holds the bride’s gown and a torch. Rubens painted himself into the scene too. He is the one holding the cross. This is only a small digression from the truth. Rubens actually attended the wedding but would not have had such a prominent role in the ceremony. He was traveling through Italy, and attended as a member of the Gonzaga Household

No. 7 The Wedding Location

Old Church Tower at Nuenen (or The Peasants' Churchyard) are names given to several oil paintings and drawings created in 1884 and 1885 by Vincent van Gogh. Most reflect the way the 12th-century church looked in its better days when its spire was intact and its foundation formidable. The spire was demolished in 1792 and the church tower was in the process of being torn down and sold for scrap as Van Gogh made the paintings.

No 8. The Religious and Spiritual Aspects of Union

A Wedding “The Wedding at Cana” is so large it can be measured in yards. It’s about 22 feet tall, and 32 feet wide. While it depicts Christ’s first miracle, there is much more going on in the painting. Veronese added 130 people to the reception. Many are historic persons, and can be identified, like Suleiman the Magnificent. Jesus, Mary, and some of the disciples are seated in the center of the banquet table. This relegates the bridal couple to the far side of the table as guests. The artist kept the paintings prime real estate for himself. The musicians at the front of the painting are the premiere artists of Renaissance Venice. Four have been identified. From left to right there is Veronese, an unidentified figure, Jacopo Bassano, Tintoretto, and Titian.

No. 9 The Wedding Party

Wedding Party
A Wedding Party 1667 Jan Steen (1625/26-1679) Apsley House
Jan Steen created a host of wedding paintings. They are usually loud, and raucous events packed with people, and strange sights. Mostly they are of small villages. These were genre paintings. Steen’s genre canvases were designed to be conversation pieces inside wealthy homes. They were often filled with Dutch proverbs, and sayings. Today we no longer know all the sayings that are contained in these works. In general, the wedding receptions represented debauchery.

No 10. Love

Love When Marc Chagall first moved to Paris he studied with the Cubists. That influence can be seen in his “Double Portrait with Wine Glass.” He employed symbolism, and color in his works, which set him apart. As he matured as an artist, his Cubist tendencies would give way to Surrealism, and symbols and color would take on even greater importance. This is a double portrait of Chagall, and his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld. They remained deeply in love through-out their marriage. Chagall even described their romance in terms of color, and symbolism, “I had only to open the window of my room and blue air, love and flowers entered with her.” In the painting love, allows the couple (who married in 1915) to soar weightless above their hometown.

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