Artist's Impression of a Medieval Wedding

Viking art

Viking art, also known commonly as Norse art, is a term widely accepted for the art of Scandinavian Norsemen and Viking settlements further afield—particularly in the British Isles and Iceland—during the Viking Age of the 8th-11th centuries CE. Viking art has many design elements in common with Celtic, Germanic, the later Romanesque and Eastern European art, sharing many influences with each of these traditions. [1]

Generally speaking, the current knowledge of Viking art relies heavily upon more durable objects of metal and stone wood, bone, ivory and textiles are more rarely preserved human skin, which historical sources indicate was often elaborately tattooed [ citation needed ] , is nowhere extant and is unlikely to have survived. The artistic record therefore, as it has survived to the present day, remains significantly incomplete. Ongoing archaeological excavation and opportunistic finds, of course, may improve this situation in the future, as indeed they have in the recent past.

Viking art is usually divided into a sequence of roughly chronological styles, although outside Scandinavia itself local influences are often strong, and the development of styles can be less clear.

The Strange History of the Wedding Cake

Ask any summer bride: her wedding cake, wreathed in hand-crafted sugar roses and sometimes worth more than her bridal dress, is the ultimate vehicle for self-expression. Princess Diana’s five-foot tall cake, adorned with marzipan Windsor coats of arms, was so vital to the royal union that two copies were made, the extra serving as a stunt double in case of accidents. Modern cake designs can range from the fussily subtle (icing patterns that echo the embroidery on the bride’s dress, for instance) to the downright outrageous: cakes resembling favorite cycling paths, log cabins, iPods, snow plows, or Hawaiian volcanoes (that actually spew smoke). One recent bride opted for a full-size edible replica of herself another, the town square from “Back to the Future.” And if the happy couple doesn’t have the heart to devour the masterpiece—well, these days they might not have to. To cut costs, elaborate cakes are sometimes crafted out of Styrofoam, with a single real slice built in for the sake of the cutting ceremony. Guests are served a simple sheet cake carved discreetly in the kitchen.

The history of the nuptial pastry, though, is even stranger than these modern rituals suggests.  In ancient Rome, marriages were sealed when the groom smashed a barley cake over the bride’s head. (Luckily, tiaras were not fashionable then.) In medieval England, newlyweds smooched over a pile of buns, supposedly ensuring a prosperous future. Unmarried guests sometimes took home a little piece of cake to tuck under their pillow.

Perhaps this was preferable to eating it. One early British recipe for “Bride’s Pye” mixed cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads, oysters and (mercifully) plenty of spices. Another version called for boiled calf’s feet.

By the mid sixteenth century, though, sugar was becoming plentiful in England. The more refined the sugar, the whiter it was. Pure white icing soon became a wedding cake staple. Not only did the color allude to the bride’s virginity, as Carol Wilson points out in her Gastronomica article “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History,” but the whiteness was “a status symbol, a display of the family’s wealth.” Later, tiered cakes, with their cement-like supports of decorative dried icing, also advertised affluence. Formal wedding cakes became bigger and more elaborate through the Victorian age. In 1947, when Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) wed Prince Philip, the cake weighed 500 pounds.

It's just dessert, right? It disappears with the guests. But today’s Bridezilla might be able to justify her towering concoction, because the most famous cakes become immortal. Pieces of Queen Victoria’s 167-year-old wedding cake are on display at Windsor Castle this year, for instance. And a slice of the 1871 wedding cake of her daughter, Princess Louise, was recently auctioned off at an antiques fair for $215.  It was a scandalous wedding, because Louise married “a commoner,” but there was nothing common about the cake, which took three months to create.  Wrapped in parchment paper, the slice was stashed in a “cabinet of curiosity” for all these years. Its texture has been described as “firm.”

  • Paintings of strange animals will go on show at the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London from March 16
  • They include George Stubbs’ painting of a kangaroo with tiny arms
  • Animal artworks created by people who had never seen the creature in the flesh, such as rhinos and lions, will also go on show
  • Such images were used to bring newly discovered animals into the public

Published: 12:25 BST, 2 March 2015 | Updated: 06:04 BST, 29 March 2015

When Western explorers first discovered set eyes on animals in far-flung locations, artists had the difficult job of depicting them from their exotic descriptions.

Now these paintings, including one of a scaly rhino with horns on its back, are among the works going on display at an exhibition entitled ‘Strange Creatures’.

The show will examine the history of animal representations and how art was used to bring newly discovered creatures into the public eye, especially before the days of zoos, the television and the internet.

Researchers’ stories include medieval accounts of exotic creatures and art from the ages of exploration. This is a copy of Dürer's rhino, made in 1558, which was based on a written description. It has fantastical armour and a strange shoulder horn, and became an enduring image of rhinos for Europeans

The images, which was picked by palaeontologists, historians of science and exploration and art experts, will be go on display at the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London.

Researchers’ stories include medieval accounts of exotic creatures, art from the ages of exploration and empire, sailors who faked ‘dragon’ specimens by manipulating dried fish and even contemporary knitted craft taxidermy.

For the dragons, sailors would cut rays and skates in a certain way, and then dry them out. This created specimens that were then sold as dragons and angels, Grant Museum Manager Jack Ashby who curated Strange Creatures, told MailOnline.

'Naturalists drew these creatures for engravings in their books, which others would copy.

Wedding Rituals

Many of the items and rituals that took place during the time of a wedding have become traditions and are practiced today. The marriage ceremony, for example, contains much of the same wording that was used in the middle ages. Today, the man and the woman stand on the same sides of the altar as they did then. The wedding ceremony of today also includes a ring exchange, and the ring is placed on the fourth finger, the same finger it was placed on during the middle ages. Furthermore, a couple and their families would have a large feast after the wedding, this is still carried on in today's society with the wedding reception.

Для показа рекламных объявлений Etsy по интересам используются технические решения сторонних компаний.

Мы привлекаем к этому партнеров по маркетингу и рекламе (которые могут располагать собранной ими самими информацией). Отказ не означает прекращения демонстрации рекламы Etsy или изменений в алгоритмах персонализации Etsy, но может привести к тому, что реклама будет повторяться чаще и станет менее актуальной. Подробнее в нашей Политике в отношении файлов Cookie и схожих технологий.

Northern Renaissance Art (1400–1600)

This lecture covers the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Northern Europe in areas including France, the Netherlands (Dutch art), Germany, and Flanders (Flemish art). It includes pictorial works in a range of media including paintings, prints, and textiles. Some sculpture was made in the North at this time, but is not included here because sculpture in the North is typically not considered as formally transformational as it was in the contemporaneous Italian Renaissance in the South.

The Northern Renaissance style might be described as the very singular result of a blending of Late Gothic art, contemporary ideas about observation, and Reformation ideology. The European mind in the North at this time saw their Christian God in every aspect of the world, and so the world was depicted with an exacting naturalism that verged on the spiritual.

In order to emphasize the radical revolutions of this period, ask students to try to conjure up the worldview of a person in the Middle Ages. The term “Renaissance” is no joke—Europe really was reborn into a new mindset during this period.

Remind students of the absolutism of the Catholic Church (then, simply the Church) for nearly a millennium throughout Europe. You can simply evoke the image of a glorious and mind-boggling Gothic cathedral towering over the medieval city, and consuming much of its manpower and resources. There was only one accepted way to believe, but the Protestant Reformation questioned that absolute power.

Emphasize that a medieval person’s experience of visual imagery would likewise have been profoundly different than ours. We are inundated with images, digital and in print, whereas a person in the fifteenth century may have only ever seen visual images on the altarpieces in her church or small woodcuts in her Bible.

Explain the term “vernacular” to bring up the fact that the religious texts in which people were compelled to believe were all printed in Latin until the Reformation. That fact, combined with the reality of near-universal illiteracy, meant that knowledge and its dissemination were controlled by a very select few. Sacred writing was mostly experienced through someone else’s explanation, so a believer’s experience of God through scripture was always at second hand. Life under these circumstances must have been fairly oppressive, but the people didn’t receive any information that there could be another way of life. The invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1448 would provide a pivotal step in making knowledge more accessible.

Background Readings

Albrecht Dürer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498, Woodcut.

Background readings for students can include your survey textbook and the extensive Smarthistory sections on Flanders, the Reformation, and the Northern Renaissance. For information on the so-called “printing revolution,” see Chapter 16 of the classic study by Marshall McLuhan, or Elizabeth Eisenstein, or this summary.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s article on painting in oil is concise and thorough. BBC Radio‘s twenty-minute audio program “Diet of Worms” describes the particulars of the historical moment of the Protestant Reformation.

There is also a three-part BBC series from 2007 on the Northern Renaissance that offers sixty-minute artist-specific videos on Jan Van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer (in parts 1, 2, 3, and 4), and Hieronymus Bosch (in parts 1, 2, 3, and 4).

Content Suggestions

The revolutionary qualities of the Northern Renaissance—and its continuity with the past—can be explored in an hour and fifteen minutes through a variety of examples, including:

  • “Purgatory” and “Anatomical Man” from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, France, 1413–6, Illuminated manuscript.
  • “January” and “February”, pages from the calendar of Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, France, 1413–6, Illuminated manuscript.
  • Attributed to Robert Campin, Mérode Altarpiece, c. 1430, Oil on oak panel.
  • Jan Van Eyck, Arnolfini Wedding Portrait, 1434, Oil on oak panel.
  • Jan Van Eyck, Man in A Turban, 1433, Oil on panel.
  • Hieronymous Bosch, Last Judgment (open), 1504-8, Oil on panel.
  • Unicorn Tapestry, 1495–1505, Wool, silk, silver and gilt.
  • Martin Schongauer, Temptation of St. Anthony, 1480-90, Engraving.
  • Albrecht Dürer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498, Woodcut, 15 1/2 x 11 1/8”.
  • Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504, Engraving, 9 7/8 x 7 7/8”.
  • Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait, 1500, Oil on panel.
  • Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, 1504, Engraving.
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther, 1532, Oil on panel.
  • Hans Holbein, Henry VIII, 1540, Oil on panel.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Return of the Hunters, 1565, Oil on panel.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Peasant Wedding, 1567, Oil on panel.

The influence of the International Gothic Style (think elongated, pointed architecture with intricate detail) is manifest in the meticulous, near microscopic paintings of Northern Europe that resemble medieval manuscript illuminations. The Très Riches Heures is a late example of an illuminated Book of Hours (Christian devotional text) that both looks back to medieval artistic traditions and forward to the Renaissance. On the one hand, its medium (hand-painted luxury item), its patron (the über-aristocrat, Duc de Berry) and its format, focusing on cycles of nature and the cosmos (diagrams, hours, and calendar), all scream “medieval.” You might ask students to rehearse the signposts typical features of the Gothic style that they learned in previous lectures. One plate illustrating “Anatomical Man” reveals the odd systems of resemblance between nature, the human body, and the heavens that governed the pseudo-scientific beliefs of the Middle Ages. On the other hand, the manuscript features an intuitive attempt at perspectival space and scenes from everyday life, albeit in a still-feudal society. It can be entertaining to have students point out particular details such as beehives, pets, and items of clothing from the calendar plates.

The French dukes of Burgundy controlled an area of present-day Belgium called Flanders from 1384 until 1477 when it passed to the Hapsburg Dynasty. Eventually the Spanish took over the region in 1556. You can take this opportunity to address the formation of national borders in Europe—those contested but largely imaginary geographical lines. Scenes of contemporary life are also featured in Flemish paintings. The remarkable thing about paintings like the Mérode Altarpiece is that they set Biblical stories in contemporary homes and costumes. Streetscapes in the far background are sometimes more believable than religious scenes staged in the foreground. Describe the oddness of that imagery by asking the class to imagine staging the Annunciation scene in their house or apartment, with the Angel Gabriel wearing jeans and sneakers. This small, private piece also demonstrates the Northern love of symbolism. Every still-life object in the scene—from the white lily symbolizing Mary’s purity, to the tiny mousetrap at the bottom right symbolizing Christ as a snare for the devil—bears a religious meaning. You might take a moment to review the difference between an icon and symbol.

Jan Van Eyck is the undisputed master of Flemish painting. His so-called Arnolfini Wedding Portrait is teeming with symbols (oranges, a convex mirror, one candle burning) and students can guess at their meanings. The furry little dog even symbolizes loyalty (think: “Fido” or fidelity). Again we have a scene of contemporary, middle-class domestic life in Northern Europe. As in the South, a new urban, merchant economy produced a middle class of art patrons in the North by the fifteenth century. See the activity at the end of this lesson for more on this painting.

The portrait (and later the still life) developed as a secular type of painting in Flanders. Contemporary artist Nina Katchadourian plays with the look of Flemish portraits in her improvisational self-portraits taken in airplane lavatories.

Jan Van Eyck’s Man in A Turban is presumed to be a self-portrait. The stunning color and textures (skin, stubble, cloth turban) of this painting were are achieved with oil paint. This medium was superior to tempera because it allowed artists to paint slowly, building up translucent, shimmering tones, whereas tempera dried quickly and was unforgiving. The comparison between these two media is laid out in this quick study guide.

The minute depiction of the world that oil paints facilitated sometimes skewed toward the grotesque. Hieronymus Bosch’s altarpiece painting Last Judgment recalls Gothic scenes of hell, and was intended as a meditation on the folly of sin. It requires some time for the viewer to take in the all of the punishments and demons Bosch invented for his hell. You can find details here. You also might introduce the Renaissance altarpiece here and stress the drama of its opening and closing function.

That grotesque and/or meticulous Northern vision crossed media. It wasn’t just oil paint that allowed an excess of symbolic detail. The Unicorn Tapestry, an artist’s drawing rendered in wool and silk by guild weavers, is a feat of textile weaving and religious symbolism. It hearkens back to the medieval bestiary but looks forward to Renaissance botanical studies.

Printmaking flourished in the North with the arrival of printing technology in Europe, possibly from the East, where it had existed for centuries. Flemish painting styles are reflected in Martin Schongauer’s Temptation of St. Anthony. He achieves a sense of space and texture with engraving techniques like cross-hatching. Engraving onto metal plates for printing allowed artists to create fine lines without reverting to a negative image, as they had previously done when carving woodcuts. Albrecht Dürer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a brilliant example of the woodcutting medium and a testament to the artist’s talent. Notice, however, that the lines are thicker than in engraved prints and that the hatching goes in one direction. The Museum of Modern Art’s fun tutorial What Is A Print? explains woodcut and acid etching, and you can learn about engraving here.

If the fourteenth century had been a kind of awkward, groping adolescence for European art and identity (not to mention the Black Plague that killed a third of the European population), the fifteenth century saw more radical shifts toward a Renaissance (“rebirth”) of Classical thinking. For the medieval mind, faith triumphed over reason, but that paradigm would be reversed by the sixteenth century when artists recorded the world very literally as they saw it. In the North, the Classical legacy brought idealism, combined with Italian humanism and empiricism—close looking at the world. For example, the eponymous figures of Dürer’s Adam and Eve stand in contrapposto with perfected Classical anatomy (albeit in a German-looking forest with symbolic animals). Students can compare these figures “before the Fall” to Masaccio’s expelled pair. Dürer had brought home Italian elements from his visit to Rome, and his own thoughts on ideal human form are laid out in his Four Books on Human Proportion.

Dürer’s Self-Portrait of 1500 portrays the artist frontally, Christ-like, and perhaps possessed of supernatural talent. He reasserts that identity by comparing himself to Melencolia I, the tortured intellectual archetype derived from ancient Greek medical texts about the four humors, or personality types. This brings up the same shift that took place in the Italian Renaissance, from artist as craftsman to artist as genius. Discuss with your class the role of an artist in today’s society with some of the following questions: What does a contemporary artist do for society? What about a designer? Should artists be paid or respected more than workers of other professions? What social class does an artist come from—then and now? Should an artist make more money than a master craftsman? Who pays/should pay for art?

With the Protestant Reformation (think “protest and reform”), artists in the North including Dürer lost a major patron—the Church. The Protestant Church did not commission religious images, in part because one of the complaints against the Catholic Church had been its sale of indulgences (documents forgiving people of their sins) in exchange for sponsorship of Catholic artistic and architectural projects. Martin Luther began as a monk and professor of theology before challenging Catholicism. He was acquainted with the artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose studio painted a rather matter-of-fact likeness of Luther. He translated the Bible into German, so that lay people could read the text themselves. The Englishman John Wycliffe had translated it into the common language as well, for Protestant England. Rulers like Henry VIII, portrayed in Hans Holbein’s painting, tired of giving power to the Pope in Rome and thus had a political stake in the Reformation.

So what did painting in the Protestant North look like? If you remove the angels and deities and overt religious symbolism from Flemish paintings, leaving only the little scenes of everyday life, then blow those up to the size of a landscape, you might get something that looks like Pieter Bruegel’s Return of the Hunters. Like Bosch, Bruegel composed a landscape brimming with interest, and expected a viewer to take time to look into it. This was a believable, but still idealized world where people worked hard but mostly got along. Bruegel’s Peasant Wedding exposed lower class life with charm and humor. You might point out how this type of scene set the stage for still-life painting.

At the End of Class.

Once students are in the headspace of a fifteenth-century European, understanding the lack of power resulting from restricted access to knowledge, you may generate a discussion on the importance of literacy and universal education. Ask the class which technological revolutions have impacted society (as much as the printing press did) during their lifetime? Or the twentieth century? What shifts in thinking may revolutionize the way we live in the future? Can there be another kind of “Renaissance”?

An easy assignment to engage students creatively might ask them to create an altarpiece from folded paper using their favorite movie or novel as subject matter. They should decide how best to compose the panels to tell the story sequentially. The exterior can be drawn in grayscale and the interior in full color for impact. It should be exciting and try to encapsulate a narrative in a few important scenes.

You can also assign this Mystery Portrait activity using Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding Portrait:

Artworks are often surrounded by some degree of mystery. Art historians use all sorts of methods to reveal the history contained in them: science, archives, eye-witness accounts, etc.

Read the Mystery of the Marriage transcript form the Open University and view the Smarthistory video on the Jan Van Eyck painting known as the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait.

What are the questions/controversies that this painting raises? (List two.)

Think like a detective living at the time when then portrait was painted, and investigating these questions. Write about how you might track down some answers to these questions. What sorts of documents might you find as evidence? Are any of these documents available today? How might you begin investigate this as an art historian today? (You don’t need to do any actual research!)

For example, it has been debated that this is a wedding portrait. As a detective you might have gone to the local church to check wedding records. As a scholar today you might look into marriage customs of the Flemish in the fifteenth century that you recognize in the painting.

Your response should be given in a page or two of writing. Try to be creative!

Christina McCollum (author) is a PhD Candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Jon Mann (editor) is an Adjunct Lecturer at Lehman College, a Senior Contributor at Artsy, and a lecture contributor and editor at Art History Teaching Resources and Art History Pedagogy and Practice.

AHTR is grateful for funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Medieval flowers

Roses where a part of the medieval pleasure gardens and used as a Christian symbol of Jesus and his suffering. A couple of roses can be traced back to the Middle Ages like the Rosa gallica var. officinalis also known as the Apothecary's rose. Presumably it had been brought to Europe by the crusaders returning from the Holy Land. It was used for medicine or perfume and grown at first in the monasteries. It is a beautiful historical flower that would look beautiful in the hair of a bride or on the tables in your venue.

Another known rose is the Rosa Alba, or the White Rose of York. Both of the roses were adopted as heraldic symbols by the houses of York and Lanchester who were rivals. The rivalry ended when Henry Tudor became king and united the two houses along with the two roses to make a new symbol. Perhaps a suiting wedding symbolism, the two roses together to indicate unity and peace.

Other flowers or plants I could mention are:
The lily: Often seen in religious paintings or in relation to France (fleur de lis).
Iris, Marigold, Daisies, Foxgloves, Cowslip, Peony and Snowdrop.

Researchers Discover Hidden Portrait in 15th-Century Duchess’ Prayer Book

When a noblewoman named Yolande of Anjou married Francis I, the future duke of Brittany (not to be confused with the French king of the same name), in 1431, her mother commissioned a devotional Book of Hours that included a painting of the young woman as a wedding gift. After Yolande died just nine years later, the duke married again—and had the image of his first wife replaced with a painting of his new one, Isabella Stewart of Scotland.

As Sam Russell reports for PA Media, the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum discovered the artistic cover-up after noticing a portion of the portrait that was darker than the paint surrounding it. Staff then used infrared light to investigate.

“That’s when the under-drawing was revealed,” museum co-curator Suzanne Reynolds tells PA.

The original image showed Yolande kneeling in prayer before the Virgin Mary, reports Owen Jarus for Live Science. The redone painting portrays Isabella in the same position, with St. Catherine of Alexandria beside her.

“At the death of his first wife, Francis may have taken control of the prayer book and ordered it to be customized to best suit Isabella,” Reynolds tells Live Science. “It is possible Isabella had some input. For example, the inclusion of St. Catherine who was not there before indicates that Isabella may have had a special devotion to this saint.”

In addition to adding Isabella’s image, artists hired by Francis painted her coat of arms on the floral borders of many of the book’s pages. Per the Art Newspaper’s Maev Kennedy, scientists at the Fitzwilliam were able to distinguish the different paints used by the two sets of artists. The book’s original illustrators, based in Angers, used red lead paint, while the artists in Nantes who painted over the portrait used vermillion red for Isabella’s gown and coats of arms.

Researchers used infrared light to reveal the painted-over likeness of the duke's first wife, Yolande of Anjou. (© The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

Francis ordered the book’s alteration shortly after Yolande’s death, before he married Isabella in 1442. Initially, Isabella was painted wearing Yolande’s headdress, but around the time of the couple’s wedding, the image was altered again, giving her a gold coronet with jewels to mark Francis’ new title as duke.

Later on, the book was once again altered, with Isabella’s daughter Margaret adding another page depicting herself kneeling before the Virgin.

Reynolds describes the book, which became known as the Hours of Isabella Stuart, as one of the most richly decorated medieval devotionals. It contains more than 500 miniature images. Yolande’s mother, Yolande of Aragon, was a patron of the arts who also owned the similarly spectacular Belles Heures of Jean de France, duke of Berry.

Reynold tells PA that the overpainting of a medieval book was “not unique but unusual.”

“It’s a very exciting discovery,” she says. “These books in a way are sort of archaeological sites and when you start to uncover what lies under these images it actually unlocks the human story of how these books were commissioned and then passed from one person to another as the story of these different marriages and different dynastic alliances evolved.”

The book is part of the Fitzwilliam’s newest exhibition, “ The Human Touch: Making Art, Leaving Traces.” Per a statement, the show—on view through August 1—is “a journey through the anatomical workings of touch, its creative force and its emotional power, through anger, desire and possession.” The 150 or so objects included in the exhibition include medieval manuscripts like the Book of Hours, ancient Egyptian sculptures, and paintings by renowned artists spanning centuries and movements.

About Livia Gershon

Livia Gershon is a freelance journalist based in New Hampshire. She has written for JSTOR Daily, the Daily Beast, the Boston Globe, HuffPost, and Vice, among others.

Peasant Wedding

Bruegel has created a virtuoso structure in his depiction of a peasant celebration: the long, crowded banquet table creates a diagonal on which all the figures in the composition are oriented. From outside, where it is still daylight, other guests are pressing into the room. One of the bagpipe-players draws our attention to the front, where he looks with curiosity at the meagre fare that is being freshly served. Two helpers are using a door that has been taken off its hinges to carry their dishes. A server who is pouring beer into more easily handled jugs and a child eating to one side close off the painting at the front. If we follow the figure at the end of the table who is passing the dishes to the wedding guests, we are led to the true protagonist, the bride. She is sitting silently in front of a length of green cloth, which has been hung along with a paper crown in her honour on the straw wall. According to Flemish custom, the bridegroom was not allowed to attend the celebrations until the evening, and the bride was not permitted either to eat or to speak beforehand. Unfortunately nothing is known about the commissioning of this work, which is probably Bruegel’s most famous. If we knew more, it might help to resolve the controversial question of whether the painting is intended to be a caricature or carry a moralising message. Bruegel scholars in Vienna agree, however, that most of the interpretative proposals made thus far have failed to reveal the true meaning of the painting. Attempts have been made, for example, to connect the large shoes with the German expression “auf großem Fuß leben” (to live in great style) or to see the two-piece bride’s crown as an indication that she is already pregnant. It is far more in keeping with Bruegel’s humanistic conception of himself to see the painting as a neutral observation without further intent. The choice of the subject was nothing decisively new in Netherlands graphic art and painting, but never before had it been taken up with such compositional and motivic density and from such a benevolent distance.
© Cäcilia Bischoff, Masterpieces of the Picture Gallery. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2010

Watch the video: Andrea + Chiara. Medieval Wedding Trailer (January 2022).