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Ludovico Carracci, The Marriage of the Virgin

Key facts
Full title The Marriage of the Virgin
Artist Ludovico Carracci
Artist dates 1555 - 1619
Date made about 1590
Medium and support Oil on copper
Dimensions 41.3 × 32.4 cm
Acquisition credit Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Gallery, 2003
Inventory number NG6595
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Marriage of the Virgin
Ludovico Carracci

The Virgin Mary, in white, places her hand in Saint Joseph’s while the dove of the Holy Ghost hovers above the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. The high priest joins the couple in matrimony, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. Mary’s virginal companions on the right are balanced by her disappointed suitors in exotic headgear on the left. In the front left a young woman holding a toddler looks on, though he is more interested in the small dog which has joined the ceremony.

This jewel-like painting on copper, with its complex composition and glowing colours, is characteristic of Ludovico Carracci’s early works. It may well have been made for the Bolognese collector and patron Alessandro Tanari to commemorate his marriage to Diana Barbieri on 13 January 1589. It was apparently placed in an elaborate silver frame and hung in his wife’s bedroom.

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