This weekend, my husband and I took a mini-vacation to Minneapolis–and by “mini,” I mean mini. We were down and back in 26 hours. In our crazy busy lives, we’ll take what we can get. Our main goal was to go to a Timberwolves game, but we managed to get in one hour of another of my favorite activities–going to a museum. I had seen this painting on a previous visit and sought it out because it stuck with me. It is called “Marriage” by Gari Melchers (1860-1932), and I love it. And the more I look at it, the more I love it. Maybe you see what I do, maybe you don’t, but that’s the great thing about art. Everyone has their own reaction.
While we were looking at this painting, a girl I know who is an art student at the Art Institute came by (small world!). Her interpretation of the painting was that the bride was miffed at the groom and he was looking at her like, “Really, you’re going to be mad about that!?” My husband’s interpretation was that the girl was being serious because that’s what she’s supposed to do. And the boy just looks lost. What I see are two young people in an arranged marriage who do not know each other. Her stoic expression is in stark contrast to his inquisitive expression. It’s like he is looking for some kind of clue that this is going to be OK and she’s giving him nothing. The more I look at it, the deeper the story gets in his simple glance and her set jaw.
Gari Melchers is an American artist who was influenced by Dutch and French artists. Artsconnected.org describes the painting this way: It represent a youthful Dutch couple, evidently of modest rank, in their wedding finery and about to be married. The young man, scarcely more than a boy, is somewhat ill at ease though trying to appear natural, while the girl-bride in her embarrassment hardly dares betray any feeling of happiness.
So there you have it. One painting; four interpretations. What’s yours? I would love to hear it.
Being Human connection: That’s the beauty of art. Everyone’s reaction depends on the “lens” in which he or she views it. No one is right or wrong. It just is.
What if they’ve actually just shared a humorous moment and then she reminds him they have to be serious or….what will people think? He looks like he might be thinking, “Well, okay, if you say so.”
My thoughts are that this is a case of opposites attract. The stoic, traditional lady takes this all extremely seriously, and the husband to slightly amused and intrigued by her attitude. I guess it sort of reminds me of my wife when she’s worrying about something silly and I know it.
The first interpretation is the most evident/logical one. Your interpretation is the most beautiful one.
At closer glance, I see something deeper than temporary unhappiness in her so in my opinion it is not the first interpretation. In my opinion, it is not a marriage out of love, it is either an arranged marriage or a marriage of convenience. For some reason, the title, “The Marriage” makes me lean towards the former, and I am now fully on board with your interpretation. If I were to paint a marriage of an arranged marriage and have it appear like this one, “The Marriage” would be a fitting title. If it were a marriage of convenience meant to be a quasi-parody on happiness, who knows, maybe it’d be like, “Wedded Bliss” or something like that. So your interpretation is the most evident and beautiful, but as you said, it is always a matter of opinion.