• Marriage at Cana

    Artist:
    Garofalo (Benvenuto Tisi), ca. 1481-1559
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    306x248 cm

Garofalo (Benvenuto Tisi), ca. 1481-1559

Marriage at Cana

Italy, 1531

From the late 1520s Il Garofalo worked on the decoration of the Covent of San Bernardino in Ferrara. In 1792 the impoverished nuns sold eight canvases to Pope Pius VI. The pontiff’s nephew sold off the collection, part of which was bought for the Hermitage. This imposing canvas once adorned the refectory. The subject was taken from the Gospel of St John, which tells of Christ and his mother attending a wedding feast at a place called Cana in Galilee. During the celebrations, the wine ran short and at Mary’s request Jesus turned the water for washing into wine. This episode has a profound symbolic aspect to it, pointing to the sacrament of communion. The convent was founded by Lucrezia Borgia, who was the wife of Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. For that reason, it is possible that, besides the allusion to the sacraments, the painting served as a sort of window on the life of bustle and luxury upon which the nuns had turned their backs – because among their number there were many women from noble families and ruling houses. We are presented with a high society banquet with a large number of guests, musicians and dancers. The bride, groom and servants are sporting clothes and hairstyles in the fashion characteristic of the court of Ferrara. The idealized images and balanced composition are evidence of the influence of Raphael’s work on Il Garofalo. Stuck into the bride’s bodice is a red carnation. The artist often used this flower in place of a signature and its name in Italian was his nickname.

School:

Title:

Marriage at Cana

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

306x248 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1898; formerly in the Gatchina Palace collection

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-244

Category:

Collection:

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