The Golden Wedding

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Detail: The anniversary couple on the right, being poured a drink.
detail on white background


Object Detail

Title: The Golden Wedding
Artist: Carl Hoff
Date: 1883
Object type: Painting
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 185.9 cm by 317.4 cm
Location: Gallery 13 (the third gallery on the left from the entry foyer)

Visual description

The work is set in the 17th century and depicts the golden wedding anniversary of a prosperous couple. The celebration is taking place outdoors. The white-haired couple dressed in black are at the centre of the painting. They are wearing ruffled collars and thick gold jewellery. A drink is being poured for them into a large golden goblet. Well-dressed noble guests are emerging behind the couple, on the steps and balcony of a stone German baronial hall decorated with a flag and wreaths. Other guests in more common dress (the tenantry and retainers of the family) are feasting at a table under a tree to the left of the painting. The painting is colourful and filled with 100 active, happy figures.


The Golden Wedding was the centrepiece of the collection of Mr and Mrs Robert Hill Kinnear and hung on the wall of the drawing room in their Toorak house. The Kinnears had strong family ties with Germany and commissioned a number of paintings, including The Golden Wedding, directly from contemporary artists. Portraits of Mr and Mrs Kinnear were included among the guests in the painting.

The work was purchased by Bendigo Art Gallery in 1908.


The painting reveals something of society at the time – to the left are the servants or estate staff with rosy cheeks, dishevelled hair and evidence of somewhat boisterous behaviour with their expansive gestures and overturned glasses. This contrasts with the studied, restrained poses of the main family on the right, with evidence of the trappings of affluence – the elaborate dresses, hairstyles and jewels.

About the artist

German Carl Hoff lived from 1838 to 1890. He was well known in Germany in the late 19th century as a painter of genre and historical subjects. He studied in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf before travelling to France in 1862. In Paris, he was strongly influenced by Meissonier – one of the most popular narrative painters of the 19th century. Like Hoff, Meissonier specialised in 16th and 17th century tableau pieces often featuring soldiers or cavaliers and he was known for the minute detail with which he filled vast canvases. His influence can clearly be seen in The Golden Wedding, with its period setting and detailed attention to costumes and surfaces. Another influence on Hoff was the equally popular Austro-Hungarian painter Munkácsy, whose works also featured elaborate and colourful interiors painted with technical virtuosity.

Paintings by Carl Hoff are represented in the collection of the National Gallery, Berlin, as well as museums in Dusseldorf, Kalsruche, Hamburg and Philadelphia.


Concerto for two oboes in F major Op9 no3, Allegro by Albinoni.


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Paintings: The Drover; A Primrose from England.

Sculptures: Folly; Venus Tying her Sandal.