Couple Reunited at the Mauritshuis

June 30 2020

Image of Couple Reunited at the Mauritshuis

Picture: Mauritshuis

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Wonderful news that a diptych of a betrothed couple has been reunited after a century apart.

Curator Ariane van Suchtelen had spent twenty years looking for the companion to the Mauritshuis's portrait of Elisabeth Bellinghausen by Bartholomäus Bruyn the Elder (1493-1555). The picture, dated to 1538/9, is actually on a long term loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The companion portrait of Elisabeth's fiance, Jakob Omphalius, was separated from his wife-to-be around a hundred years ago.

Jakob's portrait appeared at auction in 2019 where it was purchased by the De Jonckheere gallery. A curator in Germany saw it and informed the Rijksmuseum, who then alerted the Mauritshuis to its reappearance. The Mauritshuis managed to raise the funds to buy it where the couple has finally been reunited.

The way both portraits correspond in terms of colouring and details is enchanting. Portraits of married couples were often, and sometimes still are, split up. This is especially the case when one of the pair are considered more 'commercially attractive' than the other. But this reunited pair really does make the case for how harmonious it can be when two pictures are presented together as they were originally intended.

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