Northern Italy, late 16th century
oil on canvas, Framed: 132 x 173 x 10.5 cm (51 15/16 x 68 1/16 x 4 1/8 in.); Unframed: 99.8 x 140.5 cm (39 1/4 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 sittersâ€™ 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 womanâ€™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.
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