1614 Maria Schlechhuber betrothed to Andreas Ligsalz zu Ascholding by ? (private collection)

The Weiss Gallery has posted this image (that's where I first found it) with this note:  "This portrait depicts Maria Schlechhuber (c.1594–1674) aged twenty, wife of Andreas Ligsalz zu Ascholding of Munich whose family coat of arms is shown in the top left-hand corner. While the identity of the artist is unknown, he was most likely local to Munich since both Maria and her husband were born there and Andreas was Mayor of the city. The portrait was probably commissioned to celebrate the couple’s betrothal, and served to provide a visual record of what was essentially at that time a marriage ‘contract’. 

There are many clues as to why this painting can be considered a marriage portrait. Maria holds a pink carnation in her left hand, often used in Northern European Renaissance portraits as a symbol of engagement. She carries a wreath of rosemary in her right hand, a herb traditionally used during the marriage ceremony when the wreath passed from wife to husband as a symbol of her fidelity. Anne of Cleves is said to have worn rosemary in her crown on her wedding day to Henry VIII. The heavy gold-link chains looped around Maria’s neck may represent a sizeable dowry, in addition to their decorative purpose. A set of golden rosary beads lie on the table by her side, a traditional wedding present from the groom to his bride and an indication of the sitter’s Catholic faith. Similar beads hang on the wall in Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait. Her ruby wedding ring is prominently displayed on the thumb of her right hand as was typical of this period, when the ring represented an advance payment from husband to wife in the marriage contract, a promise of future bridal wealth.

Maria was twenty years of age when she sat for this portrait in 1614, and her clothing indicates her high social status. Her ruff is finished with cutwork lace of bold geometric design and matches her cuffs. She is dressed in a tightly boned black silk bodice which is worn with a matching black silk damask skirt, self-patterned with a floral design. The colour black was highly fashionable throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century, partly because of the high cost of producing and maintaining a 'true' black dye pigment. The hanging sleeves of the bodice reveal silver and gold embroidered silk under-sleeves. Her hair is combed back in a bun and is probably raised over an artificial pad. In addition to the gold chains around her neck, Maria wears a selection of other items of jewellery, including an interesting pendant of gold, enamel and precious jewels. It depicts the winged archangel St Michael as a knight-warrior, in the process of slaying Satan, and perhaps is intended to indicate the defence against evil. On her left hand she wears another ring, also set with a ruby. She wears two identical gold and enamel bracelets and around her waist is a highly decorative gold and jewelled girdle.

At the time this portrait was painted, Bavaria was ruled by Duke Maximilian I (1571-1673), also prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire and a rigid adherent of the Catholic faith. Like Maria and Andreas, Maximilian was born in Munich and in 1610 ordered the enlargement of the Residenz royal buildings which formed the centre of Munich court life. It is conceivable that Maria would have attended court given her close link with the Mayor and she is perhaps here portrayed in court dress. The decorative white rosette at her chest is a characteristic feature of English court dress during this period, as are the hanging sleeves. A pair of portraits thought to represent our sitter’s grandparents-in-law was painted in 1540 by the German Renaissance painter Hans Mielich of Andreas Ligsalz and his wife Apollonia, and are currently exhibited at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich in 1986."

This image is from moreimg.com.

Keywords:  1614, German, straight coiffure, straight coiffure, tiara, high enclosing neckline, ruff, lace, partlet, vee neckline, rosettes, tabbed sleeves, hanging sleeves, long tight false sleeves, back-flared engageantes, girdle, vee waistline, farthingale, draped necklace, jeweled bodice ornament, bracelets, rings

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