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A Boyar Wedding Feast

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A Boyar Wedding Feast

Made by: Makovsky, Konstantin Egorovich

On view in: Pavilion

About this object

This large painting depicts one of the most important social and political events of old Russia, a wedding uniting two families of the powerful boyar class that dominated Muscovite politics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The artist has singled out that moment during the wedding feast when the guests toast the bridal couple with the traditional chant of "gor’ko, gor’ko," meaning "bitter, bitter," a reference to the wine, which has supposedly turned bitter. The newlywed couple must kiss to make the wine sweet again. The toast occurs towards the end of the feast when a roasted swan is brought in, the last dish presented before the couple retires.

The wedding takes place in a room very reminiscent of those in an old palace in the Kremlin. Various men and women in elaborate costumes of the period are grouped around a table in the center. The bride and groom stand at the right. In center background is a side board on which rests silver plate and to the left of this a servant brings in a cooked swan on a large platter. At left foreground is an ivory chest on which stands an enameled silver bowl. Various pieces of silver are on the table. The guests raise their glasses in a toast, while the matchmaker stands behind the bride and encourages her.

Object name:
A Boyar Wedding Feast
Made from:
Oil on canvas
Made in:
RUSSIA: Saint Petersburg
Date made:
without frame __93.00 IN __154.00 IN ||with frame __100.25 in __161.00 in
without frame __236.22 CM __391.16 CM ||with frame __254.64 cm __408.94 cm

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
SIGNATURE; DATE __1883 Konstantin Makovskii __at bottom
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Featured in publication:
"Hillwood Museum & Gardens: Marjorie Merriweather Post's Art Collector's Personal Museum","Russian Silver in America: Surviving the Melting Pot","A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum"