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Adrien Moreau - Spanish Wedding

Adrien Moreau (1843-1906), French
Spanish Wedding, 1879
OIL ON CANVAS, 28 x 35 ½ inches

Bequest of Mrs. Theodora Willard Best

Adrien Moreau's portrayal of the lavish wedding ceremony of the Spanish nobility exem­plifies the fascination for anecdotal genre painting among French academic painters dur­ing the mid- and later nineteenth century. In the distant wake of the French Revolution, artists such as Moreau clung to history, formerly considered the highest and most distin­guished genre, as a subject for their art. Despite the loss of noble patronage during the nineteenth century, these painters found enduring patronage among the affluent bourgeois class. Moreau's wedding scene, despite its apparent extravagance, may fairly be described as a quaint, provincial shadow of the weddings and festivities regularly hosted by Napoleon at the beginning of the century and by Louis XVI before the Revolution of 1789. Identify­ing the event as a Spanish wedding, rather than a French one, Moreau safely distanced himself and his patrons from any lingering monarchism, a specter that continued to haunt the French during mid-century.

Another, nearly identical version of the painting, entitled The Birthday of the Lady of the Manor, demonstrates how interchange­able Moreau's titles could be to appeal to his patrons. The painting's primary subject, in either case, is the sweet gesture of a girl presenting flowers to the bride as a gift from her mother and the audi­ence looking on from outside of the arcade.