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Painting and Graphic Art

Marriage portraits of Bernhard Brand II and Dorothea Miiller

Key data

dated 1620

Circle of Bartholomaus Sarburgh, Basle

Oil on panel

112 x 82 cm

Inv. 1987.988.

Inv. 1887.103.


This typical Basle portrait of a married couple of the early C17 shows husband and wife turned towards each other in three quarters length. Following the practice usual since the C15, the left side, favoured in heraldic convention, was reserved for the husband. On both portraits the age of the sitter and the date of the painting is announced at head height - in the husband's case, emphasized by a motif of classical architecture, his four year tenure of the rank of senator is also indicated. As senator he officiated beside the representatives of the 15 guilds in the inner council. Bernhard Brand II (1588-1650) had studied both branches of law at Basle and Bourges and in 1608 had made a long study tour through France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and as far as Malta. After his return he married Dorothea Muller (1584-1638), the daughter of a Basle spice and gunpowder trader. His further career as governor of Waldenburg (1625-35) and Kleinhüningen (1641-44) brought him the office of chief guildmaster, the second most powerful man in the city, in 1644. The costumes and attributes of the couple display a modest luxury in conformity with the strict sumptuary laws, and show them to belong to the educated and wealthy ruling class. Bartholomaus Sarburgh (born ca. 1590) successfully propagated not only in Basle but also among the patriciate of Berne this type of portrait, established in the Netherlands by Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn of The Hague, who is thought to have been his teacher.

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