Weeping Bride

Jan Sanders van Hemessen

Jan Sanders van Hemessen - Weeping Bride
Depictions of a married couple before the wedding night enjoyed great popularity in the Low Countries. However, this panel is a satire on the theme. The bride, depicted at an advanced age, is weeping bitterly, while the bridegroom is trying to console her. The bride is afraid of the wedding night. An allusion to the life of a married woman can be seen in the chamber pot which the young man is handing her. A chamber pot belonged to the furnishings of a married couple´s bedroom (it is often found in the Dutch genre painting of the 17th century), and for the bride, it becomes a symbol of the life of a married woman, no longer innocent. The torn sleeve can be interpreted in this sense, of the bride´s dress, which the bridegroom is seizing. The period customs and poetry can help interpret the meaning of the cherry wreath on the old woman´s head: in folk songs, ripe cherries were often used as an allegorical expression for beautiful women. Here, the wreath of cherries is rather an ironic sneer at the appearance of the bride and her innocence, at the same time crowning all the scene.
measurements: height 51,8 cm
width 63 cm
material: wood
technique: oil
inventory number: O 1576
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters