The Sacrament of Marriage

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The Sacrament of Marriage 1647 - 1648


Poussin illustrated the Sacrament of Marriage by showing the fictional betrothal of the Virgin Mary to Joseph. Marriage is considered a sacrament in the Christian faith (an outward sign of inner grace), but is different from the other sacraments, as it involves the mutual consent of two parties. The couple’s union is divinely regulated by God. In this picture, Poussin depicted Joseph placing the ring on the Virgin’s finger. Joseph still holds the flowering rod, which had distinguished him from the other men as the most appropriate suitor for Mary. This painting was greatly admired by the artist Bernini when he saw it in Paris in the 1660s. He particularly liked the mysterious veiled woman behind the pillar on the far left of the composition and remarked on the priest’s lack of ceremonial vestments.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.



  • Acc. No. NGL 067.46 C
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 117.00 x 178.00 cm (151.00 x 212.00 x 11.40 cm)
  • Credit Bridgewater Collection Loan