Portrait of Maria Baroncelli by Hans Memling

Portrait of Maria Baroncelli by Hans Memling

Maria Baroncelli was only fourteen years old when she became the wife of the thirty-three Tommaso Portinari. Accordingly, the Burgundian fashion for a girl is a high headdress trimmed with lace, a long veil that emphasizes her position as a bride.

Despite her young age, her appearance is filled with the confidence of a secular lady, and a precious necklace indicates her high social position. Unlike her husband’s impassivity, her image is less strict, and a slight smile seems to have touched her face.

X-ray studies of the work revealed that the girl was originally dressed differently: the position of the Burgundian cap, originally decorated as on the Triptinich Portinari with V-shaped motifs, was more vertical, the black draperies fell on the shoulders of the girl, whose face was framed by a transparent veil. Changes were made presumably at the request of the customer.

It is noteworthy that on a triptych written by Hugo van der Goes ten years later, Maria Baroncelli is depicted in the same dress, with the same precious necklace. Her hand is decorated with a ring with two stones – black and red. Both portraits of the spouses are framed with a marble frame – a technique to which the artist resorted and subsequently. Portrait of Tommaso Portinari

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