Wedding Morning

LL 3715


This small scale study is by Irish-born, genre painter William Mulready. Rather then the traditional represetations of a bride making herself beautiful before her big day, this painting shows a young man and his family making anxious preperations on the morning of his wedding. The mother is shown trying to adjust the bridegroom's collar, whilst his younger sister is busy trying to fix his buttons and the younger brother explores his pockets. On the right the father, looking exhausted and sceptical, examines his hat complete with floral adornment. It develops two pen and sepia wash drawings, one of the left-hand group and one of the whole composition, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It has been described as a sketch for a painting that was never undertaken. The date of the painting is uncertain. It has been referred to as one of Mulready's most effective narrative paintings due to the way in which he uses to clothes to tell a humorous story. Mulready was born on 1 April 1786 at Ennis, co. Clare, Ireland. He moved with his family to London when he was just seven years old. As a youth, Mulready met the painter and art teacher John Graham (1754–1817), who encouraged his parents to nurture their son’s artistic talent. He showed such great promise that at the age of fourteen he entered the Royal Academy Schools, where he was taught by landscape painter, John Varley (1778–1842. Mulready went on to marry Varley’s sister, Elizabeth Robinson Varley (1784–1864), who was also a landscape painter. Whilst there, Mulready also formed an extremely close friendship with fellow artist John Linnell (1792–1882). Between 1809 and 1811 Mulready and Linnell shared lodgings in the village of Kensington Gravel Pits, an area made up of gravel quarries, cottages and kilns, now known as Notting Hill Gate. The pair perfected their technique together and sketched the local landscapes frequently alongside each other in the open air. The exact nature of their relationship is unclear, however it has been suggested that there was a homosexual dimension to their friendship. These suggestions were prompted by the discovery of letters by Mulready’s wife which complain of his sexual desire for young men, accuse him of taking a ‘low boy’ to his bed, and blame the breakdown of their marriage on his homosexual affair with Linnell.