Marriage of the Virgin

   The scene stems from Jacobus da Voragine's Golden Legend. Mary had many suitors, so the high priest in the temple asked them to present rods to him. Joseph, who held the rod that bloomed, was granted Mary's hand in marriage. In versions by both Pietro Perugino (1500-1504; Caen, Musée des Beaux-Arts) and Raphael (1504; Milan, Brera), the marriage takes place in front of the temple and is officiated by the high priest. Joseph holds the blooming rod in one hand, and he puts the ring on the Virgin's finger with the other. Among the other suitors, the one next to Joseph breaks his rod over his knee in frustration, while next to Mary stand the other maidens from the temple. Guercino painted the marriage (1649; Fano, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio) as a more intimate event inside the temple with only the Virgin, Joseph, high priest, and two women present. The temple's tabernacle behind the high priest and the canopy above the figures, places the work in its proper historical setting. The scene was also depicted by Giotto (1305; Padua, Arena Chapel), El Greco (c. 1612, Bucharest Art Museum), and Nicolas Poussin (1640; Grantham, Belvoir Castle; second version Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland).

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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