The Wedding Dress

Fred Elwell - The Wedding Dress
The painting, ‘The Wedding Dress’, by Fred Elwell tells a story... At the center, a young woman is kneeling on the floor. She is leaning on an open trunk with her head in her hands and beside her is her wedding dress, strewn across the floor. The woman’s bowed body, with her face hidden from view, conveys her distress and grief. The emphasis on the wedding dress makes the story behind the woman’s emotions explicit - she is in mourning for the man she was due to marry, or has recently wed. Elwell was an extremely accomplished still life painter and the placing of the dress with the shoes in the foreground is like a still life composition. The extensive folds of the fabric provide the artist with plenty of scope for skilfully capturing its texture and the play of light, including the subtle nuances of light and shade. Just above the dress the still life composition continues with what looks like a veil on the edge of the chest, with a small spring of flowers placed upon it. It is difficult to discern what the flowers might be, but flowers often hold a symbolic meaning in narrative works from this period, from purity and hope to death.
I don't know why I was captured by both the painting and its interpretation, but I'm sure that it will hit a nerve with all the hopeless romantics out there!


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