Le Mariage de la Vierge by Van Loo, 1814
Le Mariage de la Vierge by Charles-Andre van Loo, etched by Pigeot, 1814.
The subject of this etching is the marriage of the Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph. Life cycles of the Virgin, which were popular during the middle ages, often included the story either as one scene or as a series. However, the account is not found in the canonical Gospels and comes from from several apocryphal sources, such as the Golden Legend. God commanded the high priest to bring all the marriageable descendants of David to the temple, each bringing with him a rod. He said that Mary's husband would be revealed through the performance of two signs. First, his rod would burst into bloom when it was placed upon the altar. The second, would be the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, would perch on the flowering rod. Joseph's rod blossomed when he placed it on the altar and then the dove came and rested on it, so he and Mary were wed. Despite being non-canonical, art depicting the marriage of the virgin often includes Joseph's rod and the dove.
Charles-Andre van Loo (1705-1765) was a French painter from a family of Dutch artists. His brother, Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1684-1745), also a painter, helped advance his career by taking him to Turin and Rome to study the Italian masters. He left Italy for Paris in 1723, and four years later won the first prize for history painting. He then returned to Turin where he was patronized by King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia. In 1734 van Loo went back to Paris and became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture a year later. He excelled at the Académie and rose quickly through the ranks. He was inducted into the Order of Michael and appointed First Painter to King Louis XV in 1762. Van Loo was a skilled draughtsman and colorist. His oeuvre included subjects from every genre of art and he was extremely influential on the French school of painting. This etching of his Le Mariage de la Vierge, was published in the Galerie du Musee de France in 1814.
- Naomi Bean