Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ostentation in silver

I've gone on at some length about the portraits of wealthy German burghers' wives with big red coral rosaries -- presumably a sign of wealth and success as well as emblems of piety. Well, not all the ostentatious rosaries in such portraits are coral: some are silver, often filigree. I'm sure these were considered equally expensive and showy, and they're also interesting because there's a bit more variation in their form than in the coral beads (which are usually plain rounds).

Here's a portrait of Kunigundus von Heimbach (born 1552 in Questenberg) by our old friend Bartholomeus Bruyn the Elder, who did a lot of such portraits:

This lady, painted in 1528 by "The Master H.B. with the Griffin Head" (Meister H B mit dem Greifenkopf), also has a rosary hanging from her belt:

Here's another one by Bruyn, dated around 1542:

And another (anonymous artist this time):

This one might be silver, it's hard to tell: the beads are round and photograph rather dark. They could also be jet or black glass.

And completely different from all the above, another portrait dated 1543, this one by Willem Key: