Attributed to the Maestro delle Storie del Pane
Tempera on panel
(.95) Overall 20 3/4 x 14 5/8 in. (52.7 x 37.1 cm), painted surface 19 3/8 x 14 in. (49.2 x 35.6 cm); (.96) Overall 19 3/4 x 14 5/8 in. (50.2 x 37.1 cm), painted surface 19 1/8 x 14 1/8 in. (48.6 x 35.9 cm)
Inscribed: vt sit nostra [and] forma. svperstes
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.95, 96)
Painted by a talented, anonymous master active in Emilia-Romagna, these are quintessential marriage portraits. The sitters can probably be identified as two members of important Bolognese families who were married about 1494; the coat of arms of the Gozzadini family is on both panels. Husband and wife hold a pink and a piece of fruit, symbols of betrothal and marriage. The landscapes are filled with details evoking marital virtues, fecundity, and prosperity: the woman and the unicorn at the right allude to the legend that only a virgin could capture the mythical beast; rabbits refer to fertility; the pelican feeding her young with her own blood was a common symbol of charity. The inscription on the frieze of the building—"In order that our features survive"—states the principal objective of such commemorative portraiture, but the wealth of detail shows that these two sitters wished to be remembered not just for their physical appearances but for the qualities they brought to their marriage.