double portrait of two aristocratic children c 162030 english school

Double Portrait of Two Aristocratic Children c. 1620/30; English School.



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Oil on canvas in walnut frame.
This is a rare, charming and intimate double portrait...its rather naive quality is particularly endearing. The children are clearly of noble birth and are dressed in extremely expensive clothing.
Quite what important event is recorded here is not known. It is possible that they are brother and sister but much more likely, despite their apparent facial similarity, that this is a marriage portrait commemorating the union of two powerful dynasties.
The conjoined hands state the chief message of this picture. The children's expressions show that they are aware of the solemnity and importance of the occasion being recorded.
The girl wears, suspended around her waist, a large piece of jewellery...rubies, emeralds and pearls set in gold. It is so large as to be almost out of scale for the little child; it is likely that this was a marriage gift from the boy and is of a size to be a brooch for an adult.
Sir Anthony van Dyck's marriage portrait of the ten year old Princess Mary of England and the fifteen year old William, Prince of Orange shows her wearing just such a jewel, a gift from her husband. Older and taller than our sitter, Mary wears her brooch at the neckline of her dress.
Marriages of children in order to secure unity and as a political move was quite common amongst the great and powerful. After the ceremony the children would go to their separate homes to meet again and live as a couple when mature.
SIZE:21.75 x 25 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: The Melton Fisher Collection, Suffolk.

Internal Ref: 8825

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