Le Contrat [The Contract], plate 1, from Le Mariage à la ville [The Marriage in the City]
28.3 cm x 36.9 cm (11 1/8 in. x 14 1/2 in.)
(Tours, France, 1602 - 1676, Paris)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Leo Steinberg Collection, 2002
With over 1,500 prints to his name, Abraham Bosse is a rich source of material for our understanding of seventeenth-century society. Arranged marriages were the convention, and in this series, the first scene depicts the contract negotiated between the two families while the betrothed become acquainted off to the side. Children playing in the center middle ground suggest that the prime function of marriage is to produce heirs to whom the family's wealth will pass.