Origin: Possibly North German, Dutch or Spanish
Period: Mid 17thC
The atmospheric work in oils on one inch thick panel, made for the family chapel or altar, of good size and in memory of a patrician family, the symmetrical composition showing seventeen males and females, with the two respective coats of arms beneath each with the helm situated above the shield, torse and crest, the figures amongst an impressive architectural background with an arched façade having a caryatid support to each flank and two masks to the centre, the whole in untouched condition and surviving from mid seventeenth century Europe.
The condition of the picture is pleasing given the considerable age, the thick panel has some warping with a handful of splits as photographed, which one can see from the reverse also. It remains uncleaned and there are no signs of any over painting or restoration work. Please refer to the photographs for a full visual reference.
The costumes in this painting demonstrate the social status of the individuals and also indicate their personal information, for example, if a woman is married or not. Here, the fur to the coat of the man indicates that he is from a high patrician family and the scarf worn around the woman's head indicates that she is married.
The architecture in the picture suggests a city palace, with seventeen kneeling persons folding their hands for prayer. The men are seen on the left side, the women on the right, and in the middle are the two coats of arms. The two most important figures in the picture are the woman and the man first in each row being shown larger and more intricately presented than the others and are the married couple.
The two coats of arms are also meant as an alliance heraldry. It is probable that the people within the picture are all possibly related to each other. Over the figures heads are red crosses which indicate that this is either a wedding, funeral or memorial; maybe a betrothal ceremony, a promise to link two families by marriage or perhaps the moment before a marriage is consummated. We believe the origin could be the Netherlands or North Germany or possibly Spain.
A rare and hugely atmospheric painting with a brooding and absorbing dark quality and one worthy of extensive further research.