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Revisiting The Peasant Wedding

February 13, 2013

The week is only half over and it’s been one of riches for me. First, the great guys at Dude Write have honored me with their Diamond Member’s Only Award for my post Pee: Standing or Sitting. If you haven’t had an opportunity to check out this great site I highly recommend it. Second, Val at Unbagging the Cats has bestowed on me The Sunshine Award. Thanks Val. I’ll respond to the questions in an upcoming post.

 

Revisiting The Peasant Wedding

    

I’m amazed at the thoughtful responses to my inquiry about the groom in Bruegel’s The Peasant Wedding. Many of you did an excellent job of sleuthing and if you haven’t taken the opportunity to check the comments I think you’d find them entertaining. I’d like to repeat there is no correct answer here; critics do not agree on a candidate for the groom in this picture.

    

Seated to the right of the bride is an older couple, presumably her parents. On her left sit a woman and a fellow chowing down. Since he resembles the bride, this woman is probably the bride’s new sister-in-law. The person who received the most groom votes was the fellow pouring wine, but I seriously doubt a groom, who’s probably received a dowry for marrying this peasant girl, would pour wine for himself or anyone else. After all, this is his day too. The same holds true for the men carrying the door/food tray along with the man serving the food.

 

    

 

On the far right, deep in conversation with the friar who most likely performed the ceremony, is the best dressed person in the barn. His expensive clothes (notice the lace collar) and fabulous sword are valuable enough to buy a barn like this and pay for the humble wedding. Besides, he looks too old to marry this peasant girl, not that such things didn’t happen.

 

    

 

The man in white leggings playing an instrument resembling a bagpipe received votes, but I don’t think the groom would play music at his own wedding. Musicians were not held in high esteem at this time and this musician looks more focused on the food than anything else. He looks hungry and I bet he’s wondering if anyone has set food aside for the poor musicians.

 

    

 

My choice for groom is the fellow with the green hat leaning back nonchalantly in his chair and hoisting his tankard. His back might be to us but his head is turned so we can clearly see his profile. Like the bride, he distinguishes himself by not being interested in the food. Rather than interact with anyone, he’s checking out the venue, pleased by all the fuss. People married early and died young back then (Bruegel died at 44) and this fellow isn’t a teenager. Perhaps he’s a widower from another village and doesn’t really know anyone, including his young bride since arranged marriages were the order of the day.

    

 

The wide table separating him from his bride, like the serving tray/door, is a makeshift device and not a perfect rectangle, but this fellow in the green hat sits directly across from the bride, although it might not seem so from the viewer’s perspective. Aside from the friar, deep in conversation with the silent nobleman, this man may be the only one speaking, perhaps calling for more ale.

 

Another reason for selecting him has to do with a hierarchy of chairs. The old man on the right side of the bride sits in the only decent chair in the barn, a carved high backed chair, high status for the father of the bride. Everyone else is seated on plank benches which couldn’t be very comfortable. The only exception is the rich man at the far left who has the distinction of sitting on an overturned cask or barrel. There’s only one reason I can think of that the richest man in the room didn’t get a better seat, in this case the stool, because it was reserved for the man of the hour—the groom.

    

My choice is based on conjecture, not scholarship, and it’s quite possible I’m mistaken. Even now a sketch of this picture or a long lost letter from the artist might turn up to prove the groom’s identity once and for all. Until then The Peasant Wedding is a fun puzzle.

       




Comments

25 Comments
Maybe, maybe not!!
By: fishducky on February 13, 2013
Your guess is as good as any. Will we ever know? I doubt it. Have a fantastic day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on February 13, 2013
Congratulations on the awards. I somehow missed the post about peeing. I'm not gonna comment about it one way or another because I don't judge. I only have opinions.
By: (not your) Uncle Skip on February 13, 2013
Oh...and it seems like I am always a day late and a dollar short. But it doesn't really matter which one is the groom as long as he has a good time.
By: (not your) Uncle Skip on February 13, 2013
Really interesting Stephen.
By: John on February 13, 2013
After I made my guesses I Googled it to see what other people thought. According to most of the websites the guy in the green hat is probably the groom. I noticed the stool as well and wondered about it. Not the best looking couple from an aesthetic point of view.
By: Cheryl P. on February 13, 2013
I will have to come up with an award to bestow upon you. Perhaps an award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. Your choice seems as good as any. For all we know the groom is out back fertilizing the lawn.
By: PT Dilloway on February 13, 2013
Stephen- I thought the same thing you did and thought I posted it- ah well somehow my reply didn't take. I like all the reasons you chose- makes sense to me! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on February 13, 2013
Congrats on the award from Dude Write! I hope a lot more awards come your way - you deserve it! :-)
By: Lexa Cain on February 13, 2013
Congratulations! I never knew a man could receive such recognition for the way he pee'd. lol Kidding aside, you bring smiles to many including mine. Thank you for the gifts.
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 13, 2013
congrats on the awards!!! I enjoy your writing (most of the time)
By: momto8blog on February 13, 2013
You are my second choice for Best Companion In The Art Museum. My first choice is, and always will be, The Hurricane. Congratulations on your awards. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on February 13, 2013
i like your reasoning and i considered him but i didn't like how far away he was seated from the bride or his age. your argument about the stool makes a lot of sense though.
By: lime on February 13, 2013
Congratulations, and i like your guess.
By: mimi on February 13, 2013
Congratulations on the awards! And thank you for being such an interesting and knowledgeable teacher of art!
By: Pixel Peeper on February 13, 2013
I totally missed the stool! And that's not in reference to your peeing post.
By: Val on February 13, 2013
How fun! I like how you explained your deductive reasoning. Wouldn't it be amazing if some sort of writings about it did turn up?
By: Kianwi on February 13, 2013
This was very fun and interesting. I took note of the green hatted man's expression, but I didn't notice he's sitting on a stool/not bench. PS Come on over and vote before poll's close. =) xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on February 13, 2013
But what about the chair in which the man two places to the bride's left (HER left, not the viewer's) is sitting? (wearing a black slouch hat)
By: jenny_o on February 13, 2013
Hey, Stephan great post. Maybe I should send you a photo I have of some ancestors of mine, a wedding party of which I've tried to guess the groom. Very entertaining.
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on February 14, 2013
Surely he was out the back having a crafty Twitter session when this picture was sketched and this is why you can't find him? There you go, Mr. Marple - case closed
By: Glen on February 14, 2013
While I had a guess, I didn't write it down because I was being a wiseguy (surprise), but I would've thought the man in the fancy chair was the groom. Since old dudes were offered married off to younger chicks (even one who resembles Charles Laughton), it seemed logical to me. But, your point that the father would get the best chair also seems logical. Oh, hell, what do I know?
By: Al Penwasser on February 14, 2013
Oopsie ... apparently you already addressed the high-backed chair two places from the bride ... either that, or you retroactively stuck that information in there ... yeah, I think that's it ... I could never be guilty of reading too fast and missing an explanation :) You seem to have covered everything!
By: jenny_o on February 15, 2013
Jenny: You aren't going crazy. The high-backed chair the father is sitting in was included in my notes but I failed to mention it in my piece. I did alter my post AFTER you read it and I don't want you to think you're guilty of poor reading.
By: Chubby Chatterbox on February 16, 2013
Oh, thank you for adding that - good to know. This was a fascinating post; I enjoyed the analysis, and reading other comments and yours.
By: jenny_o on February 17, 2013

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