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Life's Day or Three Times Across the River: Noon (The Wedding Party)

Albert Fitch Bellows

American Art

By the constitution of nature . . . by the training of the family and school . . . and by the whole current of poetry and literature, woman is educated to feel that a happy marriage is the summit of all earthly felicity.
—Catherine E. Beecher, Truth Stranger than Fiction (1850)

This elaborate genre-and-Iandscape tableau was originally flanked by two smaller paintings depicting earlier and later episodes in the imagined narrative of a woman's life from infancy to marriage to death—Morning (The Christening) and Evening (The Funeral). The concept of a series of paintings recording the passage of time was not new, but Albert Fitch Bellows's focus on contemporary life rather than ancient or biblical history was unusual, as was his choice of a heroine rather than a male protagonist. This midday wedding episode presents matrimony as the high point in the heroine's life as the betrothed coupIe is ferried to the distant church. The boat also carries an aged couple as well as other younger folk celebrating the intergenerational blessings of close family ties. The trio of painting enjoyed great popularity as a set of engravings.

MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES 1861
DIMENSIONS 29 x 47 in. (73.7 x 119.4 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "A.F. Bellows. 1861"
COLLECTIONS American Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2000.8
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION Albert Fitch Bellows (American, 1829-1883). Life's Day or Three Times Across the River: Noon (The Wedding Party), 1861. Oil on canvas, 29 x 47 in. (73.7 x 119.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 2000.8 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2000.8_SL3.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2000.8_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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