Bridal Scene
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Jörg Breu the Elder
German, about 1520 - 1525
Pen and black ink and brown and orange wash
Diam.: 7 13/16 in.

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In this design for a stained-glass window, Jörg Breu blended together two episodes of a tale entitled Of Tribulation and Anguish. A boy who was cursed at birth by the emperor later rises to become his son-in-law. Here the youth arrives on horseback at court on the left; on the right, he confronts the empress and her ladies-in-waiting as he rests somewhat uncomfortably in the marriage bed of the emperor's daughter.

The nucleus of the Renaissance household was the bedchamber, where all the most important functions of family life occurred, from birth to the consummation of marriage and death. The bedchamber was not only the symbolic center of the home; it was also the decorative center, a room with expensive wall treatments and a diverse collection of furniture. Breu set this story in a lavish interior suited to its noble occupants, with a coffered ceiling and carved and molded walls. The bed, decorated with richly carved leafy scrolls and expensive textile hangings and set in an arched niche, is the most important and most ornate piece of furniture in the room.