Northern Italy, late 16th century
Oil on canvas, Framed: 132 x 173 x 10.5 cm (51 15/16 x 68 1/8 x 4 1/8 in.); Unframed: 99.8 x 140.5 cm (39 5/16 x 55 5/16 in.). Holden Collection 1916.793
While the attribution remains hotly debated, this work exemplifies how Italian portraiture of the 1500s could articulate family alliances through marriage. The inscription gives the sitters’ ages as 32 and 28, and their elaborate jewelry, weapons, and garments, made of expensive materials, convey their elite status. The marten skin attached to the woman’s waist-its head decorated with gems-symbolized propriety. These expressions of wealth convey achievements and position rather than accurate personalities, and the figures, though lifelike, stand in awkward relationship to each other, their interaction one of alliance not love.
Boston, 1883: American Exhibition of Foregin Products, Arts, and Manufactures: Art Department, "Jarves Collection,' pp. 20-22. (A Checklist of the collection exhibited by James Jackson Jarves at the Boston exposition; the collection was viewed and subsequently purchased, in toto, by Mr and Mrs L. E. Holden of Cleveland.)New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1912: "Loan Exhibition of the Holden Collection," catalogue: Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. vIII, no. 10 (October 1912), pp. 174-183; author Bryson Burroughs.)CMA, 1916: "The Inaugural Exhibition of CMA," cat. no. 27. Denver Art Museum, March1-April 30, 1956: "Clothers Make the Man," repr. p. 13 in catalogue. CMA, 1962: "Art and Humanism in the Renaissance," (no catalogue).
To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.