Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428–1501); Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, born 1456)

Artist: Hans Memling (Netherlandish, Seligenstadt, active by 1465–died 1494 Bruges)

Date: ca. 1470

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: (.626, Tommaso) overall 17 3/8 x 13 1/4 in. (44.1 x 33.7 cm), painted surface 16 5/8 x 12 1/2 in. (42.2 x 31.8 cm); (.627, Maria) overall 17 3/8 x 13 3/8 in. (44.1 x 34 cm); painted surface 16 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. (42.2 x 32.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.626–27

Description

The clever balance of verisimilitude and idealization in the features of this pair made Hans Memling the most sought-after portraitist of his day. The Florentine Tommaso Portinari was the branch manager of the Medici bank in Bruges, and probably commissioned these portraits from Memling upon the couple’s marriage in 1470. They originally formed a triptych with a central devotional image of the Virgin and Child. Beyond demonstrating the couple’s piety, Maria’s elaborate necklace and gown display their wealth and social status. Memling places the sitters before illusionistic frames, an innovation suggesting that the figures project into our space.

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