A MYSTIC MARRIAGE 1981 Nazaré, Portugal 193 x 254

On July 29 1981 six hundred thousand people filled the streets of London to catch a glimpse of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day. The couple were married at St Paul’s Cathedral before an invited congregation of more than three thousand and an estimated global TV audience of eight hundred million – making it the most popular programme ever broadcast.

André Durand was among that global audience watching the Royal wedding on a television set up on Nazare beach, Portugal, so that the fishermen could catch glimpses of the fairy-tale wedding as they launched their boats. Durand, making much of the sumptuous train of the princess’s Emmanuel ivory taffeta and antique lace gown that flowed behind her, linked the royal couple and the fishermen in what was to be his first allegorical picture inspired by the Princess of Wales, A MYSTIC MARRIAGE.


The first account of Saint Catherine of Alexandria’s mystic marriage is in a story known to exist in 1337 which recounts that it was a statue of the Virgin and Child given to Saint Catherine by her hermit mentor, that the child Christ turned towards the young virgin to place a ring on her finger. There was three hundred years between the death of Christ and when Saint Catherine lived, but the Christ child is usually portrayed in art to further emphasise that it is a spiritual marriage and not a carnal one.
Further, the iconology draws on the medieval conception of the bride of Christ representing the soul, i.e. the mystic marriage represents the marriage of the soul to Christ.

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