The Marriage of the Virgin

The Marriage of the Virgin
Artist Raphael
Year 1504
Medium Oil on roundheaded panel
Location Pinacoteca di Brera of Milan, Italy
Dimensions 67 in × 46 in
170 cm × 118 cm
Famous Paintings by Raphael
School of Athens
The Marriage of the Virgin
Resurrection of Christ
La belle jardinière
Ezekiel’s Vision
The Sistine Madonna
Madonna and Child with the Book
View Complete Works

The Marriage of the Virgin is part of an altarpiece created for a church at Citta di Castello, Italy and shows the marriage of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. The painting, an oil on panel, was completed in 1504 and is an example of Raphael’s increasing maturity and confidence as an artist. His colors here are vibrant, and the faces of his characters are specific and full of calm.

Renaissance Mastery

In this painting, Raphael shows off his mastery of perspective, for the painting is dominated by a distinctly Italian Renaissance (as opposed to Roman occupied Palestinian) round temple in the background, in the frieze of which the painter has cleverly painted his name and, below it, the date. The front and back doors of this temple are open, and through it the viewer can see a bit of the hazy, sfumato painted background of hills and sky. The temple sits on a cascade of steps that lead down to a plaza with walkways that are picked out in a reddish stone. People in Renaissance garb gather in small groups, seemingly oblivious to the rather momentous marriage that’s happening in the foreground.

A Bit of Foreshadowing

In the foreground a richly attired high priest clasps the hand of both Mary and Joseph as Joseph prepares to place the ring on Mary’s finger. Behind her stand a group of soft-eye women, her kinswomen perhaps, whose attire is only a little less sumptuous than the priest’s.

At the extreme left, the girl in red looks out at us, wistfully. Behind Joseph stands a crowd of disappointed suitors. Indeed, the one standing next to Joseph breaks his wand over his knee in what seems like resignation while another, sad-looking chap also bends his. As the viewer can see, the rod that Joseph holds has burst into flower, and the rods of the other suitors haven’t.

Mary, dressed in traditional red gown and blue cloak with her hair held by gauzy veils, looks, well, virginal. Joseph, dressed in something like a priest’s cassock with his saffron colored cloak draped elaborately around him, looks a bit careworn and older than his bride — some legends claim he was a widower. Presaging the man who will become his foster son, he’s the only one of the suitors to wear a beard. He’s also the only person in the picture who is barefoot.

Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin is now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, an art gallery in Milan, Italy.

3 responses to “The Marriage of the Virgin”

  1. James Wolford says:

    I went to this auction with a lots of old items… At this auction I baught these two pictures…
    1 – is of The Marrige of the Virgin
    2 – The Crucifixion
    Both of these are copys, 5 inches wide, 9 inches tall in these old frames…
    How can I find out if theses are worth anything ?…
    How old are they ?…
    Can you help me ?…
    thanks Jim

  2. Troy T says:

    I have studied art for a few years now and I would regret to inform you that you painting are probably worth very little. On the other hand even being a copy really depends on who the artist was or whether it was a manufactured copy. Does the painting have an artist name? If so Google the name and so what pops up. This will only increase the value slight depending on the artist popularity. Hope it helps

    Mr. T

  3. Juan says:

    The Beard means that he is already a mature Man, a father. His bare feete indicates humility, as he is a mere woodworker.

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