Jun 11, 2007
Oct 26, 2010
Oct 26, 2010

Portrait of a Couple

Portrait of a Couple

c. 1580–88

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 35 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.


Double Portrait
Well Dressed Pair
The Canvas
Who Made This?
Gender Roles
Meaningful Objects
See also
Type of artwork: 
Oil on canvas
Credit line: 
Holden Collection

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