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The Betrothal of the Holy Virgin and Saint Joseph (Fiançailles de la sainte vierge et de saint Joseph)

James Tissot

European Art

Although Luke devotes just two verses to the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, their formal promise of future marriage, Tissot inventively elaborates on the event, calling on his extensive research into ancient Jewish ritual.

Before a sea of onlookers, Joseph, with staff still in hand, and Mary stand with heads bowed beneath a painted canopy held aloft by attendants who grasp lushly garlanded poles. Tissot crams this tiny work with a multitude of details, from the patterned robes of Mary and Joseph to the petal-strewn carpet beneath their feet.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1894
    DIMENSIONS Image: 6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. (16.8 x 11.4 cm) Sheet: 6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. (16.8 x 11.4 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom left: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.15
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Betrothal of the Holy Virgin and Saint Joseph (Fiançailles de la sainte vierge et de saint Joseph), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in. (16.8 x 11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.15
    IMAGE overall, 00.159.15_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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