VOS, Marten de
(b. 1532, Antwerpen, d. 1603, Antwerpen)

The Marriage at Cana

Oil on panel, 268 x 235 cm
O.-L. Vrouwekathedraal, Antwerp

The painting shows Christ's first miracle. When the wine ran out at a wedding at which Jesus and his mother were guests, he changed the water into the finest wine - a perfect theme for the Tavern-Keepers' altar in the Antwerp Cathedral. The guild commissioned from marten de Vos, who was a very famous artist at the time. The time he spent in Venice had a noticeable effect on his work.

The wedding reception is set in an attractive Renaissance interior with a table full of fine food and expensive crockery, and festively dressed guests. Three lute-players and a young singer play from a gallery. Most of the guests look like 16th-century Westerners. The three crowns above the bride and her immediate neighbours were a customary feature of weddings in de Vos's time. He tried, nevertheless, to evoke a somewhat Oriental, biblical atmosphere - several guests wear turbans, the bridegroom has a laurel crown and some of the servants' costumes are vaguely Roman. The large wine-jugs in the foreground have an especially classical appearance. Jesus and his mother stand out because of their simple, 'biblical' clothes. The guests are sure to include several senior members of the Tavern-Keepers' Guild.