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.