Christian von Conersheim and his Wife Elisabeth von Brauweiler, 1544
Barthel (the Elder) Bruyn
oil on oak
47 x 35 cm each irregular
National Gallery of Canada (no. 797.1-2)
Bruyn was the favoured portraitist of Cologne’s elite, attuned both to his sitters’ individuality and to the shared expectations of this class. The emphasis is on the couple’s dignity and social position – their coats-of-arms displayed prominently, their dress costly, but sober. The portraits follow contemporary conventions for depicting the sexes: the husband is – from his perspective – on the right, the more honourable position; he grasps his gloves, while she is posed demurely. The bond between them is expressed physically in the paired panels, hinged together. When not needed, the work could be folded shut and stored.
Frame: engaged to panels, partly painted and gilded. Original