Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Bowdoin College
Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Collections       Exhibitions       Visit       Events       Digital Resources       About       Learn       Join and Give       Shop
Beauty and Duty: The Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage
March 27, 2008 - July 27, 2008
Halford Gallery
Bernard and Barbro Osher Gallery
"Scenes from Boccaccio's 'Il Ninfale Fiesole'" tempera on panel. Fra Angelico, Italian, 1395/1400-1455. Formerly attributed to Giovanni di Francesco Toscani, Italian (Florentine), 1370/80-1430. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The exhibition's paintings, sculptures, furniture, medals, prints, and books, from Bowdoin's collections and beyond, opened the window to the historic context of marriage in Renaissance Italy. Collectively they provided insights into Renaissance views on the nature of men and women; suggested the virtues of chastity, courage, and moderation; and presented young noble men and women whose arranged marriages were intended to strengthen military alliances and stabilize governments by providing heirs.
A colorful Italian painting in the Museum's collection depicting nymphs, goddesses, a love-struck shepherd, and his worried parents, inspired this exhibition. The painting once ornamented an early fifteenth-century Florentine wooden marriage chest (cassone) and interpreted scenes from Giovanni Boccaccio's epic and seductive romance, The Nymphs of Fiesole. The painted cassone would have been proudly displayed in the bride's public procession to her new home.

Curated by Associate Professor of Art History Susan E. Wegner, Beauty and Duty: The Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage examined the manner in which art played a vital role in the rituals and celebrations of Renaissance marriage. The exhibition included loans from museums and libraries around the country. The project was supported by grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Robert Lehman Foundation, the Cowles Charitable Trust, and the Fisher Charitable Foundation of Maine. Publication available.
"Portrait of Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain" (around age 19-22), oil on canvas. After Alonso Sanchez Coello, Spanish, ca. 1531-1588.  Gift of Miss Susan Dwight Bliss.
"Guillaume Dupré, Maria Maddalena of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany" (1589-1631)

"Nuptiae (Marriage)" from the series Schema seu speculum principum, 1597, engraving and etching. Jan Sadeler I, Flemish, 1550-1600? and Raphael Sadeler I, Flemish, 1560/61-ca. 1628 or 1632 after Giovanni Stradanus, Flemish, 1523-1605. Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund.