Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Indirectly From Bruges, Sort Of

 When I was first helping Abby unpack the boxes of inventory at Magpie Vintage, I saw these pictures and knew I had to have them. Some might just see some prints of some old European Renaissance people. I thought they were quite maestoso! They are, obviously, prints. The originals by Hans Memling are of Tommaso and Maria Portinari, and hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (in Gallery 625, to be exact). They are the wings of a triptych that was once centered by the Blessed Virgin and Child, and were most likely commissioned for their marriage in 1470. The originals are oil on wood, and are 17 3/8" x 13 1/4". 

Mine are ink on paper and measure about 8" x 11"

Now I have replaced the object of their devotion. I thought they would look rather grandioso hung on the bookshelves. I've always liked the look of pictures or mirrors hung on bookshelves, and it turned out just as I had hoped! Fantastico!!!

Poor Tommaso. He was from a prominent Florentine family, and after his father (a branch manager of the Medici Bank) died, was taken in with his brothers by Cosimo de Medici. He followed his father's footsteps by working for the branch of the Medici Bank in Bruges for over 25 years, but never rose higher than assistant manager due to the fact that Cosimo did not trust him. After her death, the 40 year old Tommaso became General Manager and a shareholder in the bank. 
Once he made a name for himself, he was married, at 42, to 14 year old Maria Maddalena Baroncelli.. Clearly the artist made the wife look older and the husband younger. Riding high on the horse, Tommaso issued unsecured loans to Charles the Bold as well as Archduke Maximilian of Austria. These loans (the former never paid back, the latter partially repaid) as well as bad investments led the Medici to give up on Bruges and dissolve the partnership.



Tommaso di Folco Portinari died a pauper. He is best known now for the commissioned paintings done at the height of his affluence, such as the Portinari Altarpiece.

Not much is known about Maria, aside from the fact that she was mother to at least three children (sons  Antonio and Pigello and daughter Margarita). I hope she remarried a wealthy man after her husband died. 


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