It’s wedding season and, if you’re not getting married yourself, chances are you are spending ridiculous amounts of money travelling to and from ceremonies across the globe, trying to look your best, despite secretly being annoyed that it’s taking up so much of the summer. But who cares!? We all love love, and what better way to celebrate the matrimonial ceremonies of your nearest and dearest than by getting dressed up and spending all of your money?!
Weddings are universal. These rituals of love that place two people on a podium, vowing to stay together forever in front of a hoard of people have been happening for centuries, across cultures, religions and styles. And, of course, they have been a favourite subject of many an artist. So, while you’re still figuring out what to wear for your fifth wedding of the season, we present you with some inspiration from art history.
The Arnolfini Portrait, Jan van Eyck, 1434
This iconic double-portrait may not look like your traditional wedding scene. The man is dressed in black and his female counterpart is adorned in green. In fact, art historians have been arguing for centuries as to the meaning of what this image actually represents, though it is now commonly assumed by many that this is a marriage portrait and, since we’re all about love, we’ll go with that.
That said, it is assumed that the couple were married prior to the painting being made, this is due to the woman’s hairstyle and the positioning of the couple. It is said that the man’s stance by the window illustrates his role in the outside world, while the woman besides the bed represents a domestic role. While we aren’t too pleased about these stereotyping of gender roles, the painting was made in the 15th century, so we’ll let that one slide, it’s still an iconic part of wedding art history.
The Wedding Dance In The Open Air, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1566
Everyone loves to celebrate true love, but who are we kidding, most of us came for the party, and Pieter Brueghel really knows how to turn the attention away from the bride and groom. With everyone holding hands and jumping around, this looks like the kind of wedding we want to be attending this summer.
The Wedding Of St George And Princess Sabra, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1857
Notice the dragon’s head in the corner of this painting? Prince George gave it as a wedding gift to his bride. Original eh? Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a member of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists working in England in the nineteenth century known for their adoration of old English history. The way Princess Sabra places a lock of her hair through St George’s helmet shows the depth of her affection, and also stakes her claim over her man.
Henri Rousseau, The Wedding Party, 1905
There is something sweet about this quintessential wedding photo in paint by Henri Rousseau. Yet again, why is everyone beside the bride dressed in black? That said, the inclusion of the dog is kinda cute. It’s also a symbol of loyalty and fidelity, long live the happy couple we say!
Frida Kahlo, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, 1931
Frida Kahlo is best known for her attention-grabbing self-portraits. She’s also famous for her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera. While this painting doesn’t look like a wedding portrait, it is. Painted a year after they married in 1930, the pair are illustrated in traditional Mexican garments, with Frida making herself significantly smaller than her husband (we sure hope it’s not a sign of submission).
Marc Chagall, Les Maries De La Tour Eiffel, 1938-39
Marc Chagall painted the dreamiest images of lovers, they were always so in love that they often flew over the cities where they resided. This marriage painting is no different. Even better, it’s in Paris, the city of love, tres romantique!
Ulay, White Bride, 1973
Whether he likes it or not, Ulay is probably best know as being Marina Abramovic’s ex-lover. He also happens to be an artist himself and once had a go at playing a bride. In White Bride he played the role of a “bride” in some let’s say interesting self-portraits. But hey its 2019, it’s time to celebrate everything controversial.
Alex Katz, Wedding Dress, 1993
In this touching portrait by Alex Katz, the artist paints a portrait of his wife and muse Ada in a wedding dress. With her simple yet classic dress, black head band and gold earrings, we can safely say #outfitgoals
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #583, 2016
Famous for her self-portraits, Cindy Sherman depicted herself as a demure bride in 2016. The cliché image of the blushing bride puts the spotlight entirely on the woman. She don’t need no man.
Text by Lizzy Vartanian
Images via Wikipedia, Sprueth Magers, @thelastgentlemanofsong, @fridakahlo, @apaixonamia, Schirn Mag, Pinterest, Tate