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"Already Unbearable to Marry": Sad Brides in the Pictures of Russian Painters
"Already Unbearable to Marry": Sad Brides in the Pictures of Russian Painters
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"Already Unbearable to Marry": Sad Brides in the Pictures of Russian Painters

A wedding is one of the most important events in the life of every person. And the artists, of course, could not ignore this vast topic. The paintings of Russian painters of the 19th century reflect the marriage traditions and tendencies of that time, the events with which weddings were associated.

"Unequal marriage" and "Interrupted wedding" by Vasily Pukirev

The most famous painting on this topic was written by Pukirev. The glory of the canvas was also promoted by rumors that the artist captured his own heartfelt tragedy in his work. Whether this is true - researchers still argue.

"Unequal marriage". Artist Vasily Pukirev

In any case, in this version, the bride's face, as it should be according to old Russian traditions, is sad, and her gaze is downcast. Sad thoughts are written on his face before the unknown future of marriage. In my opinion, the bride is upset about the groom in vain: he will not have anything that she would have to fear. But she and her family will be in abundance, and she will be able to afford to read novels, enjoy her tragedy for a long time, before the age of her maturity, and she will never need to work her hands to blood, scrubbing floors or washing clothes to feed her free husband. artist and their unfortunate disadvantaged children.

"Interrupted Wedding". Artist Vasily Pukirev

A decade and a half later, the master, who remained in the history of art as a "painter of one picture", returned to the topic in his work "An Interrupted Wedding". When asked about the reason for stopping this wedding, the second title of the picture - "The Bigamist" answers.

"The Interrupted Engagement" by Adrian Volkov

An Interrupted Engagement. Artist Adrian Volkov

In the paintings of the Itinerants and other Russian realists of the second half of the 19th century, one can often find scenes from merchant life, which at that time they began to actively ridicule on the theatrical stage, especially in the productions of Osrovsky. This painting depicts the groom of a merchant's daughter, whose engagement breaks down due to the appearance of the former lover with a baby in her arms! This is a scandal …

Sketch for the painting "The Interrupted Betrothal" by Adrian Volkov

The sketch shows that the idea was bolder: there was a daughter in a snow-white dress, that is, it was not the engagement that was broken, but the wedding itself. In principle, this is a fairly realistic plot, since there were a lot of hunters to successfully marry a rich bride. Especially for scammers, the task was facilitated by the fact that in the Russian Empire there was no single electronic document flow, and sometimes paper, too, since documents were often burned or lost, and in a huge country it was difficult to keep track of who married whom and how many times. one edge of the empire to the other.

"Matchmaking of Major" Pavel Fedotov

The Major's Courtship is the most famous painting by the Russian artist Pavel Andreevich Fedotov. Its plot is closely related to the real stories of that time.

"Major's matchmaking." Artist Pavel Fedotov

In Russia, it has long been customary to give a dowry, both for brides of a noble family and for commoners. Back in the 17th century, the famous "Domostroy" advised to store a dowry year after year from the very birth of the girl, so that later you would not have to buy everything you need at the same time, entering into large expenses.

Pavel Andreevich Fedotov. Major's matchmaking (fragment)

The wife of Emperor Paul I, Maria Feodorovna, was busy collecting the dowry for the numerous royal daughters. Annually 30 thousand rubles were deposited from the treasury. In 1840, this tradition was strengthened by the creation of a special fund, to which 50 thousand rubles were allocated every month.Thus, the canvas tells us about the simple "sale" of a girl who was brought up, dressed up, educated only in order to then marry her profitably and profitably. We understand that with such an approach, a person turns into a thing. Let us recall the words of the famous homeless woman N.A. Ostrovsky Larisa: "I am a thing, a beautiful toy." A thing that you can sell if you want and get a profit from selling it.

Pavel Andreevich Fedotov.Major's matchmaking (fragment)

Contemporaries greeted the painting with approval, the leading newspapers of St. Petersburg wrote about it, pointing to such wedding deals as a shameful stain on the morals of their time. Thus, they exchanged their nobility for gold, while merchants received good connections and nobility for their grandchildren. Naturally, there was no question of any love, it was not on one side or the other.

"To the crown (Farewell)" and "Choice of a dowry" by Vladimir Makovsky

"Choice of a dowry". Artist Vladimir Makovsky

The famous genre painter Vladimir Makovsky was not afraid of comparison with Pukirev: he painted his wedding pictures 40 years later. But the modern viewer will not notice much difference in the style of their painting. And the clue right in front of your eyes is the style of the wedding dress. Although the main set of attributes is unchanged - a veil, an orange blossom wreath, white fabric, the fashionable silhouette has changed noticeably.

"To the crown (Farewell)". Artist Vladimir Makovsky

In the painting by Pukirev, painted in 1862, the bride has a large bulky crinoline; you can't run away with such a crown. But for brides of the 1890s, the skirt is significantly narrowed and looks much more comfortable. It is curious that brides of the XXI century still prefer the style of one and a half centuries ago, with crinolines.

"Before the crown" and "After the wedding" by Firs Zhuravlev

"Before the crown." Artist Firs Zhuravlev

Zhuravlev's painting "Before the crown" for which he received the title of academician was so popular that he wrote its second version. The first, from the Russian Museum, is full of witnesses, and the costumes and attributes clearly emphasize: the family is a merchant, that is, you can laugh at them.

Blessing of the Bride. Artist Firs Zhuravlev

The second version, from the Tretyakov Gallery, is more laconic and tragic: here it is only a matter between father and daughter. The picture was called both "Blessing of the Bride" and "Marriage by Order" …

"After the wedding." Artist Firs Zhuravlev

In a later canvas, "After the Wedding", both the interior is elegant, aristocratic, and the father is a nobleman (he has no beard, and there is not a round medal on his neck, but a cross). And the bride, of course, is crying.

"Waiting for the best man" by Illarion Pryanishnikov

"Waiting for the best man." Artist Illarion Pryanishnikov

However, it is impossible to praise Russian artists for the originality of the tragic theme: exactly in the same years, all over Europe, canvases about unhappy brides were written everywhere. In the Victorian era, when capital began to dominate and it became very fashionable for men to marry in adulthood a second time, buying off both the first old wife (or successfully burying her) and from the church, the topic of unequal marriages became very relevant. In addition, crying girls in white in the paintings just look spectacular!

"Until the death tear us apart". Edmund Blair Leighton

The titles of the paintings speak for themselves: "Until death do us part" (Edmund Blair Leighton), "The Unhappy Bride" (Auguste Tolmouche), "The First Tear" (Norbert Gönette), "The Rejected Bride" (Edward Liberty) and so on … However, one should not think that the brides "in those days" were insane in terms of planning family life and did not think about their future and the future of their children, wanting to get married and give birth to prisoners-revolutionaries, irresponsible heartthrob women and just free artists with a pretty face.

"Unhappy Bride". Artist Auguste Tolmouche

Yes, a rather closed upbringing, forced, at times, isolation from the outside world in villages and provinces, an abundance of romantic literature, of course, did their dirty deed and, not seeing what could happen to a woman with her frivolous choice, the brides, of course, suffered …

However, having lived quite a bit as an adult married life, everything became “into place” and yesterday's “mourners” today with enviable zeal were looking for a “normal, worthy” husband for their daughters. “But what about the images in the paintings?” - you ask … Well, art is an art to amaze, delight and touch. People need bread and circuses, and artists need bread and fame, so if a compromise is found successfully, everyone is happy.

"Wedding in Prison" by Nikolai Matveev

"Wedding in Prison". Artist Nikolay Matveev

One of the aspects of the difference between Russian painting and European painting was an unprecedentedly progressive attitude (the existence of progressiveness as a fact was already unheard of for Slavic culture;) to numerous political prisoners. After all, they fought against the tsarist regime by means of terror, covered with an aura of heroism, and all the ascetics and intellectuals of the country admired and sympathized with them.

Hence such benevolently idealized prison plots as "They Didn't Expect" and "Refusal of Confession" by Repin, "Life is Everywhere" by Yaroshenko, "On the Stage" by Vladimir Makovsky, etc. Therefore, it is not surprising that a picture of a prisoner's wedding appeared. The bride is not in white, her face is inspired by the awareness of her own romantic sacrifice and selflessness, because now it will be much easier for her to get permission for a date, because they are already a family and it will be possible to conceive another generation of prisoners - heroes - terrorists, continue, so to speak, a glorious worthy family …

"The wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna" by Laurits Tuxen and Ilya Repin

"The wedding of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna." Artists Laurits Tuxen and Ilya Repin

The bride in these pictures is the Hessian princess Alice, in Orthodoxy - Alexandra Feodorovna, and, of course, she is not sad at all. On the contrary, she is triumphant. Of course, after just five years of waiting, she is not marrying some professional Warcraft player or a wandering musician, but the Russian emperor himself, the world's largest empire in terms of territory. Despite the emperor's secret love for the ballerina, despite the intractability of relatives on both sides, who all could not come to an agreement and peace.

This marriage was supposed to seal the union of the two powers and give the empire healthy heirs. But we know that this wedding is the saddest of all, because it was not invented by the painter, but actually happened. Family happiness will end with the collapse of the expectation of love, the collapse of the whole country and, in the end, untimely death.

The weddings of the 1980s were very different. How Soviet rock stars got married can be seen in photographs that have come down to us from that time.

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