The Royal Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague has announced the reunion of a pair of wedding portraits by Bartholomeus Brain the Elder
The Royal Mauritshuis Gallery in The Hague has announced the reunion of a pair of wedding portraits by Bartholomeus Brain the Elder. The looks of Jacob Omphalius and his fiancée Elisabeth Bellinghausen were auctioned nearly 125 years ago. The woman's name, as well as the portrait of her fiancé, have been lost - and are now restored after clever detective investigation.
The Cologne-based artist Bartholomeus Brain immortalized Jacob and his fiancée Elizabeth in two panels shortly before their marriage in 1539. About 350 years ago, the couple literally united in a "portrait diptych": the boards were attached to each other with hinges. However, in 1896, Elizabeth lost her husband - more precisely, his portrait - at an auction in London. Then the paintings were sold as images of unknown persons, attributed to Jan Gossart, nicknamed Mabuse.
In 1912, the female image entered the collection of the Rijksmuseum, which in 1951 gave it to Mauritshuis on a long-term lease. There the painting hung as "Portrait of an Unknown", and the name of the model and the location of the second half of the work remained a secret.
The double portrait was painted after the couple's engagement, but before the wedding. This is indicated by Elizabeth's hairstyle: her braids peek out from under her cap, and her hair must be shaved off her forehead so that the forehead itself seems taller in the fashion of that time. Married women did their hair differently. With her thin fingers, the girl holds a flower of a bittersweet nightshade - this plant is often found in wedding portraits from Cologne in the 16th century.
Brain painted out the clothes of his models in the smallest detail, for example, Elizabeth's ornate belt and delicate embroidery on her blouse. He worked with vibrant colors - azure, red, yellow - and dabbled in subtle strokes to make his clients' faces look lifelike.