I know very little about this painting or the artist who created it, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to feature it on the Historic Painting series. This is called Wedding Toast, and it’s obviously just that. A marriage ceremony has taken place in an upper-class Polish household. The groomsmen are getting rowdy, drinking champagne and flinging the glasses at the floor. An elderly gentleman, perhaps the father of the bride, is being hoisted onto the shoulders of some of the guests. Even the priest is getting into the act. You can almost hear the traditional music and the celebratory crash of glasses. Notice that, although this is called Wedding Toast, the bride and groom themselves are minor characters. They appear toward the left of the painting, sitting at the end of the table. The scene speaks of celebratory fun, but also wealth and privilege. These aren’t peasants getting married, but the cream of the crop of Polish society in the late 19th century.
Wedding Toast was painted by Wojciech Piechowski, a Polish realist artist, in 1881. He was from a noble family and studied at an art institute in Warsaw in the early 1870s. Though based mainly in Warsaw, he seems to have traveled around at the end of the century, occasionally winning prizes in Paris, Berlin, San Francisco and Chicago. Evidently he suffered from protracted financial troubles. Piechowski died in November 1911 in Poland, in a carriage accident, at the age of 62.
That’s really all I can tell you about Wedding Toast and its creator, except that the original is in a national fine arts museum in Warsaw. It’s such an unusual and dynamic painting that it draws you in immediately. As I’ve said before, I could keep this blog going for years on just Historic Paintings alone!