What harmed this couple’s marriage?
Edmund Blair Leighton, To Arms, 1888
A young couple, a man and a woman, are descending the stairs in this image.
According to their attire, they are newlyweds who have recently married and are leaving the Gothic cathedral.
On the girl is a stunning white gown with golden flowers embroidered along the hem. On top of the dress, a satin cape trimmed with white fur is worn, and an elegant handbag is sewn to the belt to match the color of the dress. The girl’s hair is adorned with a soft pink wreath, and she holds a small bridal bouquet in her hands.
We see relatives and guests following the young out of the cathedral behind them. This ceremony, on the other hand, is not at all joyful. Both the young and the guests have serious and worried expressions on their faces.
On the right, we see a knight, at whom the heroes of the picture are fixated. He’s dressed in full armor and uniform, clearly ready for battle. The knight is not alone; behind him is a large detachment of knights on horseback and wielding spears, all preparing to embark on some kind of military campaign. What occurred?
The knight points the young husband anxiously towards the city gates. The city appears to be in danger; perhaps they are planning an attack, and it is critical to protect it.
The picture is titled “To Arms!” because the knight wants the young man, who had just gotten married, to join the detachment and accompany them to defend his hometown.
Apparently, the young spouse is not the last person in the city; he could be a nobleman or the king’s son. It’s no coincidence that the knights’ leader summons him to war on the day of the wedding. So you’re stuck with it.
One can understand a young wife’s concern: she does not want her husband to be sent to war right after the wedding. The young man is perplexed as well. It is his duty to protect the city, but how can he abandon his wife on their wedding day?
Townspeople are watching the situation with interest. Many people peer out of windows, and some stand on the church’s threshold.
In general, the image has a disturbing effect. The war interrupts the wedding ceremony, and the city’s future is uncertain.
The painting “To Arms!” is now in a private collection and is not widely available to viewers.