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The Penny Wedding

Reference URL

The Penny Wedding About 1819

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This painting is one of Carse's most ambitious and elaborate exercises in social genre. It was first shown to the public at the British Institution in 1819 while the artist was living in London. Carse evidently revelled in the raucous merriment and boisterous vitality associated with this distinctively Scottish custom whereby guests covered the costs of the wedding feast and any surplus was used to set up the couple in their new home. Carse filled his composition with all sorts of humorous narratives. On the right of the picture two farmers or shepherds are gorging themselves on ham, while a third pulls down his bonnet to say grace. Behind them a pair of men are bickering over their voluntary contributions as the hat is passed round.

Glossary Open

British Institution

The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was founded in 1805. It promoted the work of British artists and ran a gallery on London's Pall Mall, where it offered works for public sale. It closed in 1867.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.


A French term that denotes different types of paintings, such as landscape, portrait or still life. The phrase ‘genre painting’ is used specifically to describe works depicting everyday scenes.

British Institution, Composition, Genres


  • Acc. No. NG 2833
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 88.20 x 131.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased with the aid of the Cowan Smith Bequest Fund, 2008