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Happiest Day: Wedding Customs in Transition

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La Mariée reconduite chez elle [The Bride Taken Back Home], plate 2, from Le Mariage à la ville [The Marriage in the City]

17th century
26.2 cm x 33.4 cm (10 5/16 in. x 13 1/8 in.)

Abraham Bosse (Tours, France, 1602 - 1676, Paris) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, French
Medium and Support: Etching and engraving
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
Accession Number: 2002.379.2/6

In plate 2 of this series, Bosse challenges the bedding ritual, a tradition performed by most aristocratic and upper middleclass couples from antiquity until the early nineteenth century. Consummation of the marriage was as significant as the ceremony itself. A ritual in which attendants and a priest or minister accompanied the couple to their chambers, undressed them, prayed over them, drank a toast to them and then retired from the room evolved to mark the event. Here, Bosse shows the bride protesting against the tradition. Distressed at the breach of etiquette, her attendants remind her that it is unseemly to have a man undress her. The groom loses his patience and chases the women out.

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