Lithograph by Claude Thielley, printed by Lemercier in Paris, and published by M. Knoedler, New York, and Goupil & Co., Paris, 1855. Hand-colored lithograph on paper, 17 x 20.75 inches (view), under eglomise mat within carved wooden frame, 26 x 27.5 inches.
Drawing on memories from his earlier life in the port city of Baltimore, Maryland, Woodville arranged a large group of figures in the light, airy space of the office of a justice of the peace. At the center, a strapping red-haired sailor holds the arm of his demure bride. The dramatic moment is rendered with remarkable economy, from the irritated reaction of the judge interrupted at his supper, to the conciliatory gesture of the bowing groomsman, to the oblivious pride of the sailor and the humble expectation of the elderly members of the wedding party in their "Sunday best." A subsidiary drama unfolds in the doorway, where two African-American figures hold back a crying child and a grizzled old sailor looks in from the street. The details that set the scene, from the books and papers overflowing the horsehair trunk, to an almanac page pasted to the bookcase, to the red spittoon and glistening andirons, all "finished as with a microscope," add to its visual effect. The work evokes genre painting's earlier roots, mocking its lower-class subjects for the amusement of patrons of presumably higher station, while depicting a modern moment. The original painting by Woodville is in the collections of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Item #16