'Til Death Do Us Part                By: Kristen Bias

Elizabeth Browning said, "Love doesn't make the world go round; love is what makes the ride worthwhile."  The constant of love and the impact that it has on our lives has been documented in many different pieces of artwork throughout history.  This 10-piece collection shares some of the cultural traditions, some of which are still practiced today, in wedding ceremonies from around the globe.

Possibly an Etruscan Sarcophagus, this sculpture shows the shared embrace of a man and woman. The detail seen in this image, all the way down to the jewelry and possible headdress on the woman, is exquisitely done and has lasted throughout the centuries on this volcanic stone. The side panels of the sarcophagus have carvings that represent a possible wedding procession - perhaps one that they will have together in the afterlife.
A part of a manuscript, the bottom of this picture has the marriage of Saint Hedwig to Duke Henry of Silesia. Being in an arranged marriage at the age of twelve, this was a very political union. Politically arranged marriages were mainly determined by the fathers working to better their family dynasty.
This oil on canvas by Ciro Ferri, with its rich colors and the enactment of marriage, is considered a Classical piece from 17th Century Europe. Notice that the man is putting the ring on the woman's right hand. The right side usually considered the side of honor; this is why a woman's escort is on her right at a tradition wedding ceremony.
The bedchamber was often a public place, especially during royal weddings. Members of the court would often be witness to the consummation ceremony on the wedding night, as well as any births that would come to pass.
Focusing his works mainly on the middle-classes of 17th century Holland, this painting is depicting the scene of a small courtyard, where the townsfolk have come out to meet the bride with the bridegroom. The focal point is not just the couple, but also of the bride's parents that stand behind the bride. She has brought along her dowry, her offering to her future husband, that was usually in the form of lands or riches.
This scene from the Romantic Era, shows a very intimate wedding ceremony with only five people attending. The vivid colors and softened expressions of the painting give the illusion that perhaps this marriage was for love, rather than being arranged for status. Adding depth to the portrait are such intricate details as to the flowers in the bride's hair, as well as the stitching on her gown.
Painted with such detail as to show not only the signing of the marriage contract, but also the father conferring with an attorney and the bridge-groom's family resting on the chaise on the right, this painting takes detail to a new level. Not only is there a story being told, but a very clear one. The bright fabrics that are represented, let alone the setting, are definitely there to show the aristocracy of the families involved.
This Jewish Wedding ceremony is taking place in the outside courtyard. Details included are the bridal belts, prayer shawl shared by both the bride and groom called a tallit, the chuppah (or covering), and the wine being held by the young boy behind the Rabbi. There is a Star of David on the plaque above them on the balcony; this would have been where the wine glass would have been thrown for it to break, rather than under foot, to mark the end of the ceremony.
This tapestry woven in the 15th or 16th Century is full of vibrant colors and ornate details. Showing several examples of courtly love, textiles and garments, this is a beautiful depiction of a royal wedding.
This Jazz Era lithograph highlights the style of the times. Upper class weddings of the time would have looked like this quite frequently. The bride and groom are the obvious focal points, and the lines used in them are more clean and not as blurred as those in attendance.
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