Proxy Wooings and Weddings. From Shakespeare to Rubens

Henriette Hertz Lecture

  • Public event, registration open until April 17
  • Datum: 18.04.2024
  • Uhrzeit: 18:00 - 19:30
  • Vortragende: "Henriette Hertz Lecture" by Ramie Targoff
  • Ort: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rom
  • Kontakt:
Proxy Wooings and Weddings. From Shakespeare to Rubens<i></i>
Why does Rubens’s painting of the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV lack a portrait of the groom? This paper explores the history of the proxy wedding and the theoretical problems raised by such ceremonies when confronted with expectations of affective bonds between spouses.

In Peter Paul Rubens’ monumental set of paintings on the life of Maria de’ Medici, commissioned in the early 1620’s for the former queen’s new residence at the Luxembourg Palace, the panel dedicated to the wedding between Marie and Henri IV at the Duomo in Florence does not include the actual groom. This paper explores the history of the proxy wedding, dating back to the ancient world and practiced regularly among royal families in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, and also considers, by way of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, the implications of the proxy for the affective bonds imagined between spouses.

Ramie Targoff is the Jehuda Reinharz Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University. She is the author of five books on Renaissance English and Italian literature: Common Prayer (2001), John Donne, Body and Soul (2008); Posthumous Love (2014); Renaissance Woman: The Life of Vittoria Colonna (2018); and Shakespeare’s Sisters: How Women Wrote the Renaissance (2024). She is also the translator of Vittoria Colonna’s 1538 Rime (2021). She is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

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Scientific organization: Marieke von Bernstorff

Image from Wikicommons: Pieter Paul Rubens: The Wedding by Proxy of Marie de' Medici to King Henry IV

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