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
The bejeweled martin (weasel) was a coveted fashion accessory in Renaissance Europe.
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.
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