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Happiest Day: Wedding Customs in Transition

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La Femme qui bat son mari [The Wife Who Beats Her Husband/The Irate Wife]

1633 (?)
17th century
25.9 cm x 33.3 cm (10 3/16 in. x 13 1/8 in.)

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

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, French
Medium and Support: Engraving and etching
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Julie and Lawrence Salander, 2006
Accession Number: 2006.163

By the seventeenth century, marriage for men was regarded as honorable and the means for acquiring higher status and authority among neighbors. Married men were assigned better seats in church than bachelors, and men with children were addressed as "yeoman." In order to maintain that status, however, husbands had to keep strict order in their households, and wife beating was common. Men who were "henpecked" as in The Irate Wife, lost esteem in the eyes of their colleagues. By referring in the inscription to the man in this scene as "a husband in name only," the artist leaves open the question of the validity of marriages arranged solely for the social benefits they provided.

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