Marriage in the countryside in the 19th centurye century

Marriage in the countryside in the 19th century<sup>e</sup> century

  • A wedding in Lower Normandy. The mother-in-law brings the bride's trousseau.

    BELLANGE Joseph-Louis-Hippolyte (1800 - 1866)

  • The ransom of the groom or Alsatian wedding.

    PABST Camille Alfred (1821 - 1898)

  • A Wedding in Brittany.

    LELEUX Adolphe-Pierre (1812 - 1891)

  • Wedding meal in Yport.

    FOURIE Albert Auguste (1854 - 1937)

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Title: A wedding in Lower Normandy. The mother-in-law brings the bride's trousseau.

Author : BELLANGE Joseph-Louis-Hippolyte (1800 - 1866)

Creation date : 1834

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Lithography.

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © MuCEM, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais D. Adam

Picture reference: 06-510718 / 1960.34.1

A wedding in Lower Normandy. The mother-in-law brings the bride's trousseau.

© MuCEM, Dist.RMN-Grand Palais D. Adam

To close

Title: The ransom of the groom or Alsatian wedding.

Author : PABST Camille Alfred (1821 - 1898)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Around 1850.

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 97-023821 / FNAC230

The ransom of the groom or Alsatian wedding.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

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Title: A Wedding in Brittany.

Author : LELEUX Adolphe-Pierre (1812 - 1891)

Creation date : 1863

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Quimper Museum of Fine Arts website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

Picture reference: 76-002934

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - All rights reserved

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

Publication date: March 2011

Historical context

Marriage and French rural culture

Matrimonial legislation underwent an in-depth reform under the Revolution: removing marriage from the jurisdiction of the Church, the law of September 20, 1792 transformed it into a secular contract concluded before a civil officer before the religious marriage. It also establishes divorce in the name of respect for freedom.

While these new arrangements promote nuptiality, which then surges in both cities and the countryside, they have however little impact on practices in rural areas. As these paintings and engravings show, marriage rituals remained unchanged there during much of the 19th century.e century: viewed as an event that is part of the cycle of life, marriage remains a rite of passage. Obeying a folklore based on the traditions which govern the functioning of the village community, it always culminates with the religious ceremony, itself followed by collective festivities which will take particular importance especially towards the middle of the century, in full golden age. French countryside.

Image Analysis

Marriage rituals in the countryside

This engraving by Joseph Bellangé represents the moment when, during a village wedding in Lower Normandy, the mother-in-law brings the bride's trousseau in a cart drawn by two cows and a horse. At the top of the load sits a massive cupboard held in place by a rope. A fundamental element of any wedding, the trousseau is here subject to a well-codified ceremonial transport and thus takes on the dimension of a symbolic ritual of passage: the bride has left her old home to start a new life with her husband. .

This is also a rite of passage in this painting by Alfred Pabst entitled The groom's ransom or Alsatian wedding : accompanied by his wife, the groom is "ransomed" by the people of the village who stretch a rope in front of them. The musicians who play the drum and the trumpet, the villagers who watch the scene from their window or in the street, show clearly that marriage is a collective celebration.

The same goes for this painting, dated 1863, where Adolphe Leleux represented a marriage in Brittany: gathered in large numbers, Bretons in traditional costume indulge in dances and celebrations in the village where takes place the wedding. In Brittany, the dances often started right out of church, while in most other areas they followed the wedding feast.

In the nuptial scenario, the wedding feast constitutes the culmination of the festivities: it allows the guests to commune collectively with the bride and groom, as this painting by Albert Fourié suggests. It represents the solemn moment when the bride and groom toast each other at a wedding party in Yport, Caux country. Under the blossoming apple trees, guests in town costume rub shoulders with people dressed in the traditional costume of the region.

Interpretation

From traditions to folklore

During the second half of the XIXe century, the industrial revolution led to a massive exodus of peasants to the cities. Among other consequences of this phenomenon, many wedding customs fall into disuse or only endure in the form of pale copies. Faced with this erasure of rural France and its customs, ethnographers set out to collect the last traces of secular rites.

Among the first to realize the urgency of the situation, Arnold Van Gennep succeeded at the start of the XXe century of arousing public curiosity about endangered popular cultures. Published from 1937 to 1958, his Manual of contemporary French folklore constitutes a huge encyclopedia on the mores and customs of the French countryside, where he has dealt extensively with the question of marriage and where he elevated the study of folklore to the rank of science.

At the same time as this enterprise, another school of ethnology was born around Georges-Henri Rivière who was, with Paul Rivet, at the origin of the foundation of the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in 1937. Although he put close to Thirty years in the making, this museum very early on asserted itself through its exhibitions and national surveys as the official reservoir of both material and immaterial aspects of popular culture.

  • Brittany
  • folklore
  • wedding
  • rural life
  • campaign

Bibliography

Jean-Claude BOLOGNE, History of marriage in the West, Paris, Lattès, 1995.Fernand BRAUDEL, Economic and social history of France, volume III “The advent of the industrial era, 1789-1880”, Paris, PUF, 1976 .Daniel FABRE, “Le ´ Manuel du folklore français ª by Arnold Van Gennep” in Pierre Nora (eds.), The Places of Memory, tome III “Les France”, Paris, Gallimard, 1997. Jean GAUDEMET, Le Mariage en Occident, Paris, Éd. Du Cerf, 1987.Arnold VAN GENNEP, Manuel du folklore français, Paris, A.Picard, 1936-1957.

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "Marriage in the countryside in the XIXe century "


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