Eye Candy for Today: Hans Memling double portrait

Portraits of Folco Portinari and Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli), oil painting on wood, Hans Memling
Portraits of Folco Portinari and Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli), oil painting on wood, Hans Memling

Tommaso di Folco Portinari; Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli), Hans Memling, oil on wood, roughly 17 x 13″ (42 x 32 cm), respectively.

These remarkable portraits by the noted 15th century Flemish painter are stunning examples of Northern Renaissance oil painting.

The Met’s page for the paintings indicates they were originally part of a triptych, both facing an inner panel of the Virgin and Child.

Look at the superb rendition of the couple’s eyes, the subtle modeling of the faces, the delicate variation of color in the skin, as well as the intricate attention paid to the woman’s jewelry, both of their rings, and the woman’s fingernails.

As if that wasn’t enough to wow the viewer, Memling has added a bit of trompe l’oeil trickery with a faux inner frame, overlapped subtly by the man’s cloak and the shadow of the woman’s praying hands, and more overtly by the veil of her headdress.

[Addendum: Reader Richard Budig (see this post’s comments) points out a fascinating detail I missed entirely. There is a pentimento of a line of beaded jewelry showing through the paint surface on the woman’s neck, just above the other jewelry.]

 
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3 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Hans Memling double portrait”

  1. My word!!! I’ve painted with what I thought was some good detail and great paint handling, but this is over the top. Sure would like to be able to watch this guy work. Thanks.

  2. Just notice the “ghost” beads about an inch above where they now sit on her neck. Interesting . . . looks like I’m not the only one who changes his mind.R

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