Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428–1501); Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, born 1456)
Hans Memling (Netherlandish, Seligenstadt, active by 1465–died 1494 Bruges)
Oil on wood
(.626, Tommaso) overall 17 3/8 x 13 1/4 in. (44.1 x 33.7 cm), painted surface 16 5/8 x 12 1/2 in. (42.2 x 31.8 cm); (.627, Maria) overall 17 3/8 x 13 3/8 in. (44.1 x 34 cm); painted surface 16 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. (42.2 x 32.1 cm)
The clever balance of verisimilitude and idealization in the features of this pair made Hans Memling the most sought-after portraitist of his day. The Florentine Tommaso Portinari was the branch manager of the Medici bank in Bruges, and probably commissioned these portraits from Memling upon the couple’s marriage in 1470. They originally formed a triptych with a central devotional image of the Virgin and Child. Beyond demonstrating the couple’s piety, Maria’s elaborate necklace and gown display their wealth and social status. Memling places the sitters before illusionistic frames, an innovation suggesting that the figures project into our space.
#2619: Investigations: Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428-1501); Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, born 1456), Part 1
#5126: Investigations: Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428-1501); Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, born 1456), Part 2
The Artist: For a biography of Hans Memling, see the Catalogue Entry for The Annunciation (17.190.7).
The Patron: Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428–1501) was a member of a prominent Florentine family who emigrated to Bruges to eventually become the branch manager of the Medici bank there. In about 1470, when he was about forty-two, he married Maria Maddelena Baroncelli (born Maria di Francesco Bandini Baroncelli in 1456), a mere fourteen-year-old from another leading Florentine family. They lived in elegant style in one of the grandest houses in Bruges, the Bladelinhof, which also served as Tommaso’s business offices beginning in 1466. Portinari was a strong supporter and patron of the reformed Observant branch of the Franciscan order, highly fashionable in Bruges at the time, which also received the court patronage of Margaret of York and Isabella of Portugal. In addition, he worshipped at the church of Saint James, located near the Prinsenhof and frequented by Dukes Philip the Good and Charles the Bold when they visited Bruges. Portinari was in fact a generous patron of Saint James’s church, particularly contributing to its rebuilding in the 1460s and 1470s. He was granted a funerary chapel there which he decorated lavishly. Tommaso was associated with the prestigious Confraternity of the Dry Tree, a cult promoted by the Franciscans that drew its membership from the elite society of Bruges—courtiers, foreign merchants, patrician families, and distinguished artists such as Petrus Christus and Gerard David. Portinari was a leading patron of the arts and commissioned important works from the most highly sought-after artists of his day. Among these works are Hans Memling’s Passion of Christ (Galleria Saubauda, Turin) and The Met’s Portinari portraits, as well as Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Triptych (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) and perhaps a lost Crucifixion.
Tommaso Portinari began working at the Bruges branch of the Medici bank in about 1440, when he was only about twelve years old. Advancing slowly, due to apparent opposition from Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici, Portinari did not become the branch manager and a full partner in the bank until 1465. Around the same time, Tommaso held an increasingly privileged position at court, participated in diplomatic affairs, and became a confidant of the future Duke Charles the Bold. By 1464 he was serving as the “faithful councilor” to Philip the Good, a position that he continued when Charles the Bold succeeded Philip at his death in 1467. During Portinari’s tenure at the Medici bank in Bruges, he made large and extremely risky unsecured loans to Duke Charles the Bold that were never fully repaid, eventually leading to the demise of the bank. The Bruges branch closed in 1480, and in 1497 Tommaso and his wife returned to Florence where he died in 1501. Tommaso was buried in the church of Sant’Egidio, on the high altar of which was Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Triptych. Sant’Egidio was part of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.
The Commission: The portraits of Tommaso Portinari and Maria Baroncelli were most likely commissioned around the time of the couple’s wedding in 1470. Originally they formed a triptych with an image of the Virgin between them. An inventory dated March 29, 1501, detailing the goods inherited by Francesco di Tommaso Portinari from his father Tommaso, includes “a small, valuable panel painting, with an image of Our Lady in the middle and on the sides painted Tommaso and Mona Maria his wife.” Francesco, in turn, bequeathed the triptych to the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence, as stated in his will of July 26, 1544: “a small tabernacle with three hinged panels, in which are painted the images of the most glorious Virgin Mary and of the testator’s parents, Tommaso Portinari and Maria Baroncelli.”
Based on documents in the Bruges City Archives, Susanne Franke has proposed that Tommaso originally intended to reside permanently in Bruges and that he planned to be buried in the church of Saint James. Portinari was awarded the chapel for his use in June 1471, not long after the Bishop of Tournai, Guillaume Fillastre the Younger, had consecrated the new high altar and three other altars during a celebration of Mass in the newly reconstructed chancel that Portinari had helped to pay for. In October 1474, Portinari endowed a family chapel in Saint James’s church, designating it as the tomb site for himself and his wife, and subsequently transferred the ownership of it to the Corporation of Furriers. This common practice allowed Tommaso to be relieved of the daily maintenance and payments for the chapel while still enjoying the patronage rights and having the assurance that the foundation would continue even after the family had ceased to be present in Bruges. As noted above, Tommaso and Maria relocated to Florence in 1497, where Tommaso died in 1501 and was buried in Sant’Egidio, at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. As a result, the triptych that comprised The Met’s portraits made its way from Bruges to Florence.
The Subject and the Reconstruction of the Triptych: As presented in the documentation of the triptych noted above, the Museum's portraits originally flanked an image of the Virgin. Such devotional diptychs and triptychs were popular with Italian expatriates, and several members of the Portinari family commissioned them from Memling and other noted Bruges artists. Undoubtedly, this particular ensemble was intended to convey the piety of the newly-married Portinari couple and their special devotion to the Virgin, to whom their chapel at Saint James’s church was dedicated. In their devotion to the Virgin and Child, Tommaso and Maria must also have prayed for their own progeny.
What might this triptych have looked like? As the Portinari portraits have a plain dark background, of the type traditionally favored for Burgundian court portraiture, a conventional reconstruction might also feature the Virgin and Child with a uniform dark background. Precedents for this design are found in Rogier van der Weyden’s Diptych of Jean Gros (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai, and Art Institute of Chicago) or the Diptych of Laurent Froimont (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen, and Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels).
No Virgin and Child painting by Memling with a dark background and of similar size to the Portinari panels has survived, and thus the centerpiece of the triptych has been assumed lost. However, there is one extant Memling panel, namely the Virgin and Child (National Gallery, London), that merits consideration as the type of composition that would have served as the triptych’s centerpiece. Although the identification of the London painting as the centerpiece is problematic, the hypothetical reconstruction here nonetheless suggests how the triptych may have looked (see Additional Images, fig. 1). The London painting is very close in date and size to the portraits, and the figures are comparable in scale. The Virgin is slightly more elevated in position than the portraits, as would be typical in respect to her holy status. Instead of a plain, dark background, this Virgin and Child are placed before a cloth of gold, patterned with blue and edged with strips of green silk, a type of luxury import to Bruges of Italian manufacture. The tightly-cropped and more robust sculptural forms of the Virgin and Child, and the strikingly ovoid and smooth, marble-like head of the Virgin differentiate this work from Memling’s customary treatment of the time, as found for example in the Adoration of the Magi Triptych (Museo del Prado, Madrid) or the Standing Virgin and Child with a Donor and Saint Anthony (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). This has led some scholars to question the attribution to Memling himself. However, De Vos has correctly noted the close comparison of the Virgin’s head with those of the angels in the left wing of Memling’s Last Judgment Triptych of 1467–71 (Muzeum Narodowe, Gdańsk). Giorgio Faggin called attention to the unusual “classical” quality of the painting, which he interestingly compared to Della Robbia terracotta sculptures (for an example, see The Met's 14.40.685; Additional Images, fig. 2). In this respect, it is notable that Tommaso Portinari decorated the courtyard of the Bladelinhof with stone roundels with portrait busts in high relief of Clarice Orsini and Lorenzo de’ Medici, painted to appear as terracotta sculpture, like Della Robbia-ware. In addition, Paula Nuttall suggested that Portinari may have been instrumental in acquiring a glazed terracotta roundel of the Virgin and Child attributed to Benedetto Buglioni for the church of Saint James, where it resides today in the chapel of Jean Gros. The present author has previously questioned whether Memling’s special treatment of the London Virgin and Child was intended to accommodate an Italian client. If so, a triptych comprising The Met’s Portinari portraits and the London Virgin and Child would intentionally represent an assimilation of Burgundian court culture with a familiar Italianate prototype.
A hypothetical reconstruction (see Additional Images, fig. 1) shows how these three panels might have looked as an ensemble. Placing the two portraits at an angle to the central panel (as is indicated by the 1544 inventory that mentions three hinged panels) accentuates their living presence in the viewer’s own space, a feature that Memling already emphasized by the trompe-l’oeil frames behind the figures and by the change that he made to a more oblique angle for Maria’s hennin. This change in a late paint stage augmented the lifelike illusion of Maria’s physical existence, in particular with the trailing diaphanous veil of her hennin that spills out into the viewer’s realm. The angle of the right wing vis-á-vis the centerpiece, likewise, provides an intimate connection between Maria and the Virgin. Maria’s upward glance observes the Virgin’s poignantly introspective demeanor and lowered head, which is slightly turned toward Maria, seemingly acknowledging her presence. The angled position of the left wing achieves a striking connection between the Christ Child, who raises his right hand in something between a greeting and a blessing gesture toward Tommaso, who prayerfully responds.
This configuration of the three panels juxtaposes the secular world of the Portinaris with the sacred space inhabited by the Virgin and Child, as if the latter were an apparition resulting from the fervent devotions of Tommaso and Maria. In turn, the viewer vicariously experiences the spiritual engagement of the donors with the holy figures. Reindert Falkenburg’s words concerning Memling’s equally successful Maarten van Nieuwenhove Diptych (Sint-Janshospital, Bruges) apply here as well " . . . the viewer assimilates with the donor, sharing a space that is at once pictorial and imaginary, real and illusionary, externalized and internalized, material and immaterial, sacred and profane.”
The portraits of Tommaso and Maria, of course, were intended as representations not solely of the couple’s piety; they also express their social status and connections at court. The couple are dressed in the height of fashion. Franke compares the appearance of the Portinaris with that of Charles the Bold and Isabella of Bourbon in two anonymous portraits (mid-sixteenth-century copies of fifteenth-century portraits, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent; see Additional Images, fig. 3), noting that the couples not only resemble each other, but the costumes and haircuts of the men are quite similar, as are the necklaces, necklines, and hennins of the women. Just as the initials of Charles and Isabella decorate the latter's hennin, the initials of Maria and Tommaso were once visible on Maria’s hennin (as discussed below). Maria in particular wears an ostentatious necklace very similar to one worn by Margaret of York, the third wife of Charles the Bold, at her wedding in 1468, which Tommaso and Maria attended (see Additional Images, fig. 4).
During the course of the painting process Memling made a number of adjustments in order to achieve the desired relationship between the three paintings. The sketchy underdrawing of Tommaso’s hands indicates that they were originally more vertical and were changed to an angled position that points toward the Christ Child in the hypothetical reconstruction (see Additional Images, fig. 6). The underdrawing of Maria’s portrait also shows that the fingers of her hands were lengthened from the sketch to the final painted version in order to enhance her prayerful attitude in relationship to the Virgin of the centerpiece (see Additional Images, fig. 7). Certain other adjustments may have been requested by Maria to present her in a more modest manner. X-radiography and elemental maps acquired by X-ray fluorescence of Maria’s portrait show that her black hennin was adorned with pearls in a V pattern and the initials T and M for Tommaso and Maria (see Additional Images, fig. 10). This extraordinary headdress, indicating Maria’s wealth and social status, is the same decorated hennin in black that she wears in Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Triptych (right wing, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; see Additional Images, fig. 5); her splendid necklace also appears in both paintings. Although Maria is dressed in a very similar costume to the one she wears in Hugo’s Portinari Triptych, here in addition to the position change to her hennin, black velvet lappets were added, one of which conceals her left ear that originally was visible below a previous transparent cap. Instead of the black inserts at the upper bodice of Maria’s gown in the Uffizi painting, here the inset fabric is a transparent material, which provides a more alluring and youthful image of Maria (see Technical Notes).
The Attribution and Date: Except for an early attribution by Waagen to Jan van Eyck, a passing consideration of Dieric Bouts, and a brief suggestion of Hugo van der Goes, these two portraits have been unanimously considered by Hans Memling. Max J. Friedländer and Georges Hulin de Loo first acknowledged Memling’s hand when the portraits were shown at the famous Bruges exhibition of 1902 that introduced “les Primitifs flamands” to a wider public. General consensus also assigns a date in the early 1470s for the pair. Such a date is not contradicted by the dendrochronology results (see Technical Notes).
The two portraits are in remarkably fine condition—among Memling’s best preserved—except for the general darkening of the costumes that appear to blend into the background (see Technical Notes). The pattern on Tommaso’s black jerkin, apparently not developed beyond a preliminary idea, and the contours of the lappets of Maria’s hennin are difficult to discern. Even so, the likenesses are marvels of naturalistic observation and exquisite execution. The subtly blended flesh tones describe not only the smooth sheen of the flesh, but also the sculptural form of the heads. Extraordinary attention has been given to such details as the scar on Tommaso’s chin, his emerging beard, the lines at the edges of his eyes, and the wrinkles of flesh at the knuckles of the hands. Memling’s clever balance of objective observation and idealization of his sitters made him the most sought-after portraitist of his day by both locals and foreigners, and his exported portraits exerted considerable influence abroad, especially in Italy.
[Maryan W. Ainsworth 2017]
 On the speculation that Portinari also commissioned a Crucifixion for St. James’s church in Bruges, see Koster 2008, p. 118.  For further on Tommaso Portinari and the Medici bank branch in Bruges, see Nuttall 2004, pp. 43–45, 48–49, and Koster 2008, pp. 107–23.  For a discussion of the controversial issue of Portinari’s financial state at his death, see Koster 2008, pp. 114–16.  See Waldman 2001, pp. 28, 32. Item una tavoletta dipinta preg[i]ata cum nel mezzo una immagine di Nostra Donna e dalle bande si è Tommaso e mona Maria sua donna dipinti in della tavoletta . . .  See Waldman 2001, pp. 29, 33. . . . unum tabernaculettum que clauditur con tribus sportellis, in qua est depicta imago Gloriossime virginis Marie et patris eet matris decti testatoris . . .  See Franke 2007–8, pp. 123–26.  Maximiliaan P. J Martens, Artistic Patronage in Bruges Institutions, Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992, doc. 117, p. 535. See Franke 2007–8, p. 139.  Martens 1992, pp. 262–63, 535, doc. 117; see also Maximiliaan P. J. Martens, “Some Reflections on the Social Function of Diptychs,” in John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk, eds., Essays in Context Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 87. See Nuttall 2004, pp. 47–48, and Franke 2007–8, p. 139.  Although only a Virgin is mentioned, the painting would certainly have depicted a Virgin and Child, as was typical of such works that served as the centerpiece of a triptych or the left half of a diptych.  See Nuttall 2004, pp. 70–74.  Martens 1992, p. 263.  Several additional examples of this type are illustrated and discussed in John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, Ron Spronk, eds., Prayers and Portraits, Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp; New Haven and London, 2006, nos. 24, 30, 34, 37, 38, 39.  Barbara Lane (see Lane 2009, p. 285) notes that the London Virgin and Child may once have been the central panel of a devotional triptych, with the sitters in the wings placed against a plain background, but she does not suggest The Met’s Portinari portraits as possible candidates.  Most problematic is the fact that the portraits of the two wings are illuminated from the right, while the London Virgin and Child is illuminated from the left. This might be explained if the wings were added to an already completed central painting, and the wings were lit specifically to accommodate the lighting of a chapel.  De Vos dates it to about 1467–72 (see De Vos 1994, p. 98, no. 8) and Lorne Campbell to about 1475 (see Lorne Campbell, National Gallery Catalogues: The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Schools, London, 1998, pp. 359–61). All three paintings retain their original edges on all sides. The painted surface dimensions of Tomasso Portinari are 42.2 x 31.8 cm; and of Maria Baroncelli are 42.2 x 32.1 cm. The painted surface dimensions of the Virgin and Child are 37.9 x 28 cm. The approximate difference of 4 cm in height and 4 cm in width, that is, 2 cm on each side in height and width, may have been due to a slightly different framing of the centerpiece as opposed to the wings. In addition, as Lorne Campbell noted (National Gallery Catalogues 1998, p. 359), the top and bottom edges may have been trimmed, and horizontal strips were added to the top and bottom at an unknown date to make up a support 41.2 cm high. These additions received a ground preparation and the composition was extended to cover the entire enlarged support. Could these changes to the panel have been made to accommodate the sizes of the Portinari portraits?  For a review of these opinions see De Vos 1994, p. 98, no. 8; Campbell in National Gallery Catalogues 1998, p. 359; and Lane 2009, p. 285, no. 37.  See De Vos 1994, pp. 388–89, figs. 159–60.  Giorgio T. Faggin, L'opera completa di Memling. Presentazione di Maria Corti. Apparati critici e filologici di Giorgio T. Faggin, Milan, 1969, no. 69.  See Nuttall 2004, pp. 48–49.  Paula Nuttall, “Memling’s Pagagnotti 'Virgin and Child': Italian Renaissance sculpture reimagined,” in Sculpture Journal 26.1 (2017), p. 27.  M. W. Ainsworth, Gerard David, Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition, New York 1998, p. 160; M. W. Ainsworth, review of Lorne Campbell, National Gallery Catalogues: The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Schools in Apollo 150 (November 1999), p. 56; M. W. Ainsworth, “What’s in a Name? The Question of Attribution in Early Netherlandish Painting,” Molly Faries and Ron Spronk, eds., Recent Developments in the Technical Examination of Early Netherlandish Painting: Methodology, Limitations, & Perspectives, Cambridge, Mass. and Turnhout, Belgium, 2003, p. 141.  For De Vos on Memling’s attempt to conflate northern and Italian style in portraiture to suit his Italian patrons, see De Vos 1994, pp. 368–69. See also Nuttall 2017 (as in n. 20 above) for the conflation of northern and Italian styles in the Pagagnotti Altarpiece.  The three separate hinged panels may have been constructed that way so that the wings could be placed at an angle to the central panel, or they may have been arranged in this manner so that the two lateral panels could fold over each other and the central panel for easy transport. On examples of the latter, see Hélène Verougstraete, “Diptychs with Instructions for Use,” in Essays in Context: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych, Ed. John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk, Cambridge, Mass., 2006, pp. 156–71.  Reindert Falkenburg, “Hans Memling’s Van Nieuwenhove Diptych: The Place of Prayer in Early Netherlandish Devotional Painting,” in Hand and Spronk 2006, pp. 92–105, especially p. 105.  See Franke 2007–8, pp. 135–36.  See Nuttall 2004, p. 44, for Nuttall’s mention of the wedding procession and Tommaso’s prominent position as head of the Florentine nazione as described by the court historian Olivier de la Marche: “Before the Florentine merchants walked Tommaso Portinari, head of their nazione, dressed as a councilor of Monseigneur the Duke.”  For Jan van Eyck, see Waagen 1847 and Michiels 1864; for Bouts, see Galidron 1870 and the sale catalogue of 1870; for Hugo van der Goes, see Hymans 1902 and Weale 1903. For the general agreement of the attribution to Memling, see De Vos 1994 and Lane 2009.  See De Vos 1994 and Lane 2009, and n. 14 above.  For further on the details of Memling’s working procedures in the Portinari portraits, see Ainsworth 2005.
Support: Both supports were constructed from two planks of oak, with the grain oriented vertically. Dendrochronological analysis of the portrait of Maria indicated an earliest possible creation date of 1459 with a more plausible date of 1465 upwards, while the earliest possible creation date for the panel of Tommaso was determined to be 1434 with a more plausible date of 1440 upwards. Both panels have been thinned to 4 mm, adhered to 3 mm-thick panels and cradled. The presence of unpainted wood margins and a barbe on all sides show that the original dimensions of both panels are preserved and that they were prepared in engaged frames.
Preparation: Both panels were prepared with white grounds. Examination of the portraits with infrared reflectography revealed a very sketchy underdrawing in both figures, and possibly some finer underdrawn lines (see Additional Images, figs. 6, 7). Several initial registration lines were made for the portrait of Maria, some of which can be clearly designated as underdrawing and others that are difficult to distinguish from the painted brushstrokes and may more accurately be considered part of the painting process. Memling drew the tips of her fingers further to the right and loosely set out the contours of the arms and neckline. The underdrawing medium is difficult to categorize visually; it could be either a very soft, dry medium or a lean, liquid medium. Fine lines around the contours of the face and neck are also evident in the infrared reflectogram; these may be in the paint.
A scrawled, almost illegible, area of underdrawing was detected in the portrait of Tommaso that shows the artist working out the position of the arms and hands; apparently the angle of the hands was initially more upright. These lines, executed using what appears to be a dry medium, are comparable to the underdrawing present on Memling’s Young Man at Prayer (National Gallery, London; NG2594) dating to around the same period. It is likely that the artist also set out the important contours of the sitter’s torso, as he did with Maria, but that these lines are obscured in the infrared reflectogram by the carbon-containing black paint in his jacket. As in the portrait of Maria, some fine lines at the contours of Tommaso’s face and neck seen in the IRR may be in the paint.
Paint Layers: These excellently preserved portraits are a testament to the artist’s facility with oil paints, as in his delicate manipulation of glazes and select highlights into luminous, lifelike fleshtones. The artist has included details particular to each sitter that contribute to the astonishing sense of likeness. Moreover, the rich dress and ornament display Memling’s ability to translate his profound understanding of material properties into paint, such as the masterful foreshortening of Maria’s necklace as it wraps around her neck.
The reverent tranquility of the portraits belie the many alterations, small and large, that Memling made during the course of painting. In normal viewing conditions, pentimenti in Maria’s headdress and above the necklace are slightly evident. These changes were confirmed by X-radiography (see Additional Images, figs. 8, 9) and published by Maryan Ainsworth in 1994, but new imaging techniques have shed further light on the evolution of both paintings.
Elemental mapping by X-ray fluorescence illustrated that Maria’s hennin was initially painted at a steeper angle and decorated with tiny circles that form triangles interspersed with the letters M and T. This is surely the same pearl-and-gold-decorated hennin she wears in the Portinari Triptych by Hugo van der Goes (see Additional Images, figs. 5, 10). Furthermore, the decoration in The Met's picture contains copper in addition to lead, suggesting that lead white and a copper blue were used to create pearls that were apparently further shaded with a carbon-containing black paint, as seen in the infrared reflectogram (see Additional Images, fig. 11). Taken together, these images illustrate that the first hennin was brought to a fairly high level of completion before the decision was made to change the angle and paint out the decoration. Elemental mapping also revealed the presence of a mercury-containing paint, likely vermilion, in the location of this first hennin and, indeed, a lower layer of bright red is evident in microscopic examination there (see Additional Images, fig. 12). However, the hennin depicted in Hugo’s Portinari Triptych is black with gold and pearls only. It is not clear where in the stratigraphy this red lies. It is possible that it represents yet another idea for the hennin, lying either below or above the pearl-bedecked hennin. The brightness of the red evident in microscopic examination may not represent the ultimate color planned—the intention may have been to modulate it with darker glazes.
This first pearl-bedecked hennin was topped with a diaphanous white fabric; the black lappets were a later addition. This transparent fabric—which cascaded from the top, was folded back at the brim, and draped down over the crown ending in shoulder-length lappets—allowed for glimpses of the necklace and Maria’s ear. Both the necklace and ear were fully painted up beneath the gauzy veil, as evident in the lead maps, and are further indications of the degree to which Memling had painted the composition before changing Maria’s headdress. When the hennin was lowered in position, he painted out the first with carbon-containing black and made the cone of the hennin a simple black velvet with lappets that draped over her shoulders. The lappets were initially painted smaller, as is also evident in the IRR. When adding the black lappets, the artist made a subtle adjustment to the contour of Maria’s proper right cheek; a lighter border is now evident there. This pentiment, visible as a black line in the X-radiograph, has been interpreted as an incision, but there was no evidence of an incision in microscopic examination.
The artist made a few other, minor adjustments to the costume. He began to paint pearls around the neck slightly higher than the black strand ultimately painted. These initial strokes, made with an oil-rich white paint that has darkened and now appears brown, surely would not have been visible when Memling first completed the painting. Maria’s belted waist was initially painted even narrower.
Technical imaging also helped to make visible areas that have changed with age and are now difficult to read. In normal viewing conditions the black lappets are nearly indistinguishable from the deep blue background, which has darkened. The lappets are clearer in the IRR and the calcium map (see Additional Images, fig. 13). The delicately striated black bands that form a V below her necklace are the velvet borders of a translucent white fabric, now nearly transparent (see Additional Images, fig. 14). Horizontal white striations are also evident in the translucent fabric atop her hennin; this may have been the same fabric. The lead maps reveal a higher concentration of lead white in the V beneath her necklace, showing the artist applied more white paint there, seemingly to differentiate the gauzy fabric from bare flesh. There is no sign that the gauzy white fabric was initially painted black, as in Hugo’s Portinari altarpiece. Finally, a change in her very dark blue dress is evident in the calcium map; a different distribution of color at the border suggests a band was initially planned there and ultimately simplified.
Close examination of the portrait of Tommaso does not reveal any major alterations to costume as seen in the depiction of Maria, but the infrared does show that the artist sketched in the initial lines of a design on the black jerkin, which he did not work up in the final portrayal. As in the portrait of Maria, Memling simplified the costume during the course of painting. Elemental mapping also showed that, while the collar and sleeves are the same deep burgundy, the artist used a mercury-containing paint, likely vermilion, in the collar only, not the sleeves. Memling may have planned something slightly different for Tommaso’s undergarment before making both collar and sleeves the same burgundy using what appears to be a red lake and copper blue (see Additional Images, figs. 15, 16).
Mapping also revealed that a cast shadow was originally conceived behind and to the left of Tommaso (see Additional Images, fig 17). The angle of this shadow is consistent with the shadows cast behind Maria. The gradation in the background is no longer evident.
It is important to understand that the current palette of both paintings does not represent their original appearance. While the colors of both have changed with age, the changes are more striking in the portrait of Tommaso due to its limited palette of rich, dark colors. The blue of the background has darkened and is now much closer in tone to the deep red and rich black of Tommaso’s costume than it would originally have appeared. Moreover, the black of Tommaso’s jerkin has sunk with age, a common phenomenon whereby, as the oil medium ages, its refractive index increases, becoming closer to the refractive index of the black pigments and so the paint film appears more translucent. When the modeling is carried out with varying amounts of black and other dark pigments, as was the case here, the subtle gradations in tone become less legible as the entire paint film ages, and the modeling seems flat. The addition of lead white to modeling can mitigate these effects of age. Elemental mapping by X-ray fluorescence enables a better understanding of the original appearance of Tommaso’s black jerkin. The copper maps show that the artist used small amount of a copper blue to add highlights to the folds of the very deep black jerkin, seemingly to suggest the way a velvet garment slightly glows at the edges when struck by light. These blue strokes are just evident in microscopic examination, but now, as the entire area is dark and flat, that subtle effect is no longer legible (see Additional Images, fig. 18).
[Sophie Scully 2017]
 Wood identification and dendrochronological analysis completed by Dr. Peter Klein, Universität Hamburg, dated May 13, 1997. On the panel of Maria the youngest heartwood ring was formed out in the year 1448. Regarding the sapwood statistic of Eastern Europe an earliest felling date can be derived for the year 1457, more plausible is a felling date between 1461..1463….1467 +x. With a minimum of two years for seasoning an earliest creation of the painting is possible from 1459 upwards. Under the assumption of a median of fifteen sapwood rings and two years for seasoning, as probably usual in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a creation is plausible from 1465 upwards. On the panel of Tommaso the youngest heartwood ring was formed out in the year 1423. Regarding the sapwood statistic of Eastern Europe an earliest felling date can be derived for the year 1432, more plausible is a felling date between 1436..1438….1442 +x. With a minimum of two years for seasoning an earliest creation of the painting is possible from 1434 upwards. Under the assumption of a median of fifteen sapwood rings and two years for seasoning, as probably usual in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a creation is plausible from 1440 upwards. The reports can be found in the files of the Department of Paintings Conservation. Results have also been published in: Peter Klein, “Dendrochronological Analyses of Panels of Hans Memling” in Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium, Bruges, 1994, pp. 288–89. See also Klein 2005.  Infrared reflectography completed with an OSIRIS InGaAs near-infrared camera with a 6-element, 150mm focal length f/5.6–f/45 lens; 900-1700nm spectral response, August 2017.  Lorne Campbell, National Gallery Catalogues: The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Schools, London, 1998, pp. 370-73, figs. 1–2.  See Ainsworth 1994.  XRF mapping was carried out by Silvia A. Centeno, Research Scientist in the Department of Scientific Research, and Giulia Olmeda, who at the time the painting was analyzed was a visiting graduate student from the Università degli Studi di Padova, in collaboration with Geert Van der Snickt and Koen Janssens, University of Antwerp. We are thankful to Joris Dik, Delft University of Technology, and Koen Janssens, for the loan of an XRF scanner prototype to The Met.  See Périer-d'Ieteren 2006.  A similar phenomenon was noted in the Donne Triptych, NG6275; see Lorne Campbell, National Gallery Catalogues: The Fifteenth-Century Netherlandish Schools, London, 1998, p. 377, fig. 3.
Tommaso di Folco Portinari and his wife, Maria Baroncelli, Bruges and palazzo Portinari, Florence (about 1470–Tommaso d. 1501); posthumous inventory, 1501, "una tavoletta dipinta preg[i]ata cum nel mezo una immagine di Nostra Donna e delle bande si è Tommaso e mona Maria sua donna dipinti in deta tavoletta" [a small, valuable panel painting, with an image of Our Lady in the middle and on the sides painted Tommaso and mona Maria his wife]; his son, Francesco di Tommaso Portinari, palazzo Portinari, Florence (1501–in or after 1544; bequeathed to the hospital of S Maria Nuova, mentioned in Francesco's 1544 will as "unum tabernaculettum que clauditur con tribus sportellis, in qua est depicta imago Gloriossime virginis Marie et patris et matris dicti testatoris" [a small tabernacle with three movable wings, in which is depicted the glorious Virgin Mary and the father and mother of the donor]; Santa Maria Nuova, Florence (in or after 1544, perhaps until the Napoleonic occupation); private collection, Italy (until 1843 or 1845); Anatole Nicolaevitch Demidov, principe di San Donato, and his wife, princesse Mathilde Laetitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte, Paris and Florence (1843 or 1845–his d. 1870; his estate sale, Collections de San Donato, Pillet et Petit, Paris, March 3–4, 1870, nos. 212 and 213, as "Portrait d'homme" and "Portrait de Femme," by Dieric Bouts, for Fr 6,000 to Huffer); [Huffer]; private collection, Rome (until about 1900); [Elia Volpi, Florence, about 1900]; [Agnew, London, 1901]; [Léopold Goldschmidt, Paris, 1901–d. before 1904]; [Villeroy Goldschmidt, Paris, until 1910]; [Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1910; sold for $ 426,500 to Altman]; Benjamin Altman, New York (1910–d. 1913)
Bruges. Palais du Gouvernement. "Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien," June 15–September 15, 1902, nos. 57, 58 (as portraits of Tommaso Portunari [sic] and his wife Maria, by Hans Memling, lent by Léopold Goldschmidt, Paris).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, nos. 208–9.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dutch Couples: Pair Portraits by Rembrandt and his Contemporaries," January 23–March 5, 1973, no. 2.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 27.
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
G. F. Waagen. "Nachträge zur Kenntniss der altniederländischen Malerschulen des 15ten und 16ten Jahrhunderts." Kunstblatt no. 41 (August 24, 1847), p. 163, attributes to Jan van Eyck the portraits of a man and a woman with a "spitzen, zuckerhutartigen Kopftracht" [hennin] in the Demidoff Collection in Paris [presumably our portraits of Tommaso and Maria Portinari]; states that these portraits were acquired by Princess Mathilde in Italy in 1845.
Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle. Les anciens peintres flamands. Vol. 1, Brussels, 1862, vol. 1, p. 99.
Alfred Michiels. Histoire de la peinture flamande depuis ses débuts jusqu'en 1864. Vol. 2, 2nd ed. Paris, 1866, vol. 2, p. 341, lists among the works of Jan van Eyck two portraits in the collection of Princess Mathilde, Paris: a man, and a woman with a hennin headdress.
Émile Galichon. "La galerie de San Donato." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 3 (1870), p. 107, attributes them tentatively to Dieric Bouts; suggests that the sitters were the donors of a large-scale triptych the central part of which has disappeared.
"Vente des collections de San Donato." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts (March 13, 1870), p. 43, no. 11, list the two panels as by "Bouts" and states that they were sold together at the1870 San Donato sale in Paris for Fr 6,000 to M. Huffer.
Henri Hymans. "L'exposition des primitifs flamands à Bruges (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 3rd ser., 28 (August 1902), p. 282, suggests Hugo van der Goes as their author.
Georges H. de Loo Palais du Gouvernement, Bruges. Exposition de tableaux flamands des XIVe, XVe et XVIe siècles: catalogue critique précédé d'une introduction sur l'identité de certains maîtres anonymes. Ghent, 1902, p. 15, nos. 57, 58, as by Memling before 1475; notes that the couple appear younger here than in their portraits in Hugo van der Goes's Portinari altarpiece for Santa Maria Nuova [Uffizi, Florence].
W. H. James Weale. Exposition des primitifs flamands et d'art ancien, Bruges. Première section: tableaux. Catalogue. Exh. cat., Palais du Gouvernement. Bruges, 1902, pp. XXII, 26, nos. 57 and 58, as by Memling, about 1476; identifies them as portraits of Tommaso and Maria Portunari [sic]; notes (p. XXX) that all attributions given in the catalogue are those indicated by the owners.
A. Warburg. "Flandrische Kunst und Florentinische Frührenaissance Studien." Jahrbuch der Köninglich Preussischer Kunstsammlungen 23 (1902), pp. 252–53, 257–58, 260, ill. (reprinted in A. Warburg, "Gasammelte Schriften," 1932, vol. 1, pp. 197–99, ill.), notes that Friedländer identified the sitters as Tommaso and Maria Portinari and informed him of the existence of the portraits in 1901; attributes them to Memling before 1473, about the time of his Last Judgment in Danzig [Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk], in which Tommaso is depicted naked in the lower scale of Archangel Michael; places our panels chronologically between the portraits of Tommaso and Maria in Memling's Passion of Christ [Galleria Sabauda, Turin] and those on the wings of Hugo's altarpiece in the Uffizi.
W. H. James Weale. "The Early Painters of the Netherlands as Illustrated by the Bruges Exhibition of 1902, Article III." Burlington Magazine 1 (April 1903), p. 336, tentatively suggests that they are early works by Hugo as their style seems too weak for Memling at that time; dates them a few years earlier than Hugo's Portinari altarpiece; observes that Maria's necklace is an exquisite specimen of Florentine goldsmith's work of the period.
Max J. Friedländer. "Die Brügger Leihausstellung von 1902." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 26 (1903), p. 81, nos. 57–58, attributes them to Memling and dates them about 1475, approximately contemporary with Hugo's Uffizi altarpiece; notes that a heavy yellow varnish makes it difficult to judge their condition.
W. H. James Weale. "The Early Painters of the Netherlands as Illustrated by the Bruges Exhibition of 1902, Article IV." Burlington Magazine 2 (June 1903), p. 40, ill., an editorial note indicates that the attribution of these portraits to Memling "was doubted by many critics" when they were exhibited at Bruges in 1902.
Karl Voll. Die altniederländische Malerei von Jan van Eyck bis Memling. Leipzig, 1906, p. 225, mentions them as works ascribed to Memling but difficult to judge in their present condiction.
[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert. La peinture en Belgique: Les primitifs flamands. Vol. 2, Brussels, 1909, p. 130 n. 3, mentions the portrait of Tommaso as a rather heavy–handed work from about 1475 attributed to Memling.
Karl Voll. Memling: Des Meisters Gemälde. Stuttgart, 1909, pp. 160–61, 175, ill., lists them with Memling's doubtful works, but notes that in spite of a certain dryness they are consistent with his style.
Georges Hulin de Loo. Letter to Duveen. December 26, 1909, considers them genuine works of Memling from about 1473 (or certainly between 1470 and 1476).
Max J. Friedländer. Letter to Francis Kleinberger. January 26, 1910, as by Memling, about 1475.
Max J. Friedländer. Letter to Francis Kleinberger. February 7, 1910, as without doubt by Memling; quotes opinions of authorities (Hulin [de Loo], Bode and Glück) in support of this attribution.
Wilhelm von Bode. Letter to Francis Kleinberger. February 13, 1910, as very characteristic and fine works of Memling.
Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, pp. 59, 179.
Max J. Friedländer. "The Altman Memlings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art in America 4, no. 4 (1916), pp. 194–95, ill., dates them about 1475, from the same period as Hugo's altarpiece in Florence; notes that the portraits were found in Rome, in or about the year 1900, by a Florentine art dealer.
François Monod. "La galerie Altman au Metropolitan Museum de New-York (1er article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 8 (September–October 1923), pp. 193–94, ill. (Maria only), attributes them tentatively to Hugo van der Goes.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 4, Hugo van der Goes. Berlin, 1926, p. 25.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 6, Memling und Gerard David. Berlin, 1928, pp. 39–40, 129, nos. 69–70, pls. 37–38, dates them about 1472.
Handbook of the Benjamin Altman Collection. 2nd ed. New York, 1928, pp. 43–45, nos. 18–20, suggests that the portraits must have been painted ten to twelve years before Hugo's Portinari Altarpiece, which he dates about 1476.
Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 122, as by Memling, from the same period as Hugo's altarpiece.
H[ans]. V[ollmer]. inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 24, Leipzig, 1930, p. 376, as by Memling, from about 1472.
Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, pp. 333–34, pl. 132a (Tommaso only) [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 317, pl. 132a (Tommaso only)], ascribes them to Memling about 1472.
G. J. Hoogewerff. Vlaamsche kunst en Italiaansche Renaissance. Mechelen, [1935?], pp. 40–41, suggests the portraits were commissioned in 1470, the year of the Portinari's marriage, and that they were the wings of a triptych with the Madonna and Child or the Lamentation at its center.
J[acques]. Lavalleye in "De vlaamsche schilderkunst tot ongeveer 1480." Geschiedenis van de vlaamsche kunst. Ed. Stan Leurs. Antwerp, 1936, p. 376, as Memling about 1472.
Jacques Lavalleye. Juste de Gand: Peintre de Frédéric de Montefeltre. Louvain, 1936, vol. 1, p. 17, places the Turin Passion about 1470 and our portraits several years later.
Jacques Lavalleye. L'art en Belgique du moyen age à nos jours. Ed. Paul Fierens. Brussels, 1939, p. 141.
Germain Bazin. Memling. Paris, 1939, p. 19. pls. 16–17, attributes them to Memling under the influence of Rogier van der Weyden.
Paul Wescher. Grosskaufleute der Renaissance: In Biographien und Bildnissen. Basel, 1941?, pp. 63, 182, ill. (Tommaso only).
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 65–68, ill., as by Memling, produced "probably about 1472—certainly not before 1470"; suggest that the two panels were originally wings of a triptych with some devotional subject, probably the Virgin and Child, in the center.
Raymond De Roover. Money, Banking and Credit in Medieval Bruges: Italian Merchant–Bankers, Lombards and Money–Changers. A Study in the Origins of Banking. Cambridge, Mass., 1948, pp. 22, 28 n. 84.
Raymond De Roover. The Medici Bank, Its Organization, Management, Operations, and Decline. New York, 1948, ill. opp. p. 22.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 1, pp. 326–27, no. 857, ill. (Maria, cropped).
Ludwig Baldass. Jan van Eyck. New York, 1952, p. 74 n. 2.
C. Aru Et. de Geradon. La Galerie Sabauda de Turin [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 5]. Antwerp, 1952, pp. 15, 18, date the Turin Passion about 1470, the year of the Portinari marriage, as the couple is shown without children; observe that the Turin donors "are not older" than the sitters for our portraits.
Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, pp. 348, 479 n. 16 (to p. 294), p. 491 n. 7 (to p. 313), as by Memling about 1470–71; considers them the wings of a triptych with a Madonna and Child at the center.
Harry B. Wehle. "Maria Portinari." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 11 (January 1953), pp. 129–31, ill. p. 130 and on front cover (Maria, in color), gives biographical information about the sitters; places our portraits two years after Memling's Turin Passion of about 1470; discusses other Portinari commissions from Memling and Hugo van der Goes.
Nicole Veronée-Verhaegen. "Note à propos de Jean Gossart et d'une "Tentation de S. Antoine"." Bulletin, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts 4 (March–September 1955), p. 181.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 71, 73, 118–19, figs. 18–19, dates them about 1470.
Colin Tobias Eisler. "New England Museums." New England Museums [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 4]. Brussels, 1961, p. 69, mentions our portraits in relation to that of Gilles Joye attributed to Memling (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.), which bears a date of 1472 on its frame.
Jan Bialostocki. Les Musées de Pologne: (Gdansk, Krakow, Warszawa) [Les primitifs flamands, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas méridionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 9]. Brussels, 1966, pp. 64, 74, pl. 232c (detail of Tommaso's portrait).
John Pope-Hennessy. The Portrait in the Renaissance. Princeton, 1966, p. 311 n. 85, dates them about 1472.
Geoffrey Agnew. Agnew's, 1817–1967. London, 1967, unpaginated, ill.
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, pp. 171, 179, dates them about 1472; supports the idea that the portraits were wings of a triptych with a devotional panel in the center.
Giorgio T. Faggin. L'opera completa di Memling. Milan, 1969, p. 108, nos. 87–88, colorpls. 54–55.
Introduction by Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 46, 217, nos. 208–9, ill.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 171 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Peter Mellen. Jean Clouet: Complete Edition of the Drawings, Miniatures, and Paintings. London, 1971, p. 55.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 6, Hans Memlinc and Gerard David. New York, 1971, part 1, pp. 26, 54, nos. 69–70, pls. 112–13.
K. B. McFarlane with the assistance of G. L. Harris. Hans Memling. Ed. Edgar Wind. Oxford, 1971, pp. 34 n. 28, ill., as by Memling, from about 1471; believes they antedate by several years Hugo's Portinari Altarpiece.
Peter H. Schabacker. Petrus Christus. Utrecht, 1974, p. 47 n. 48.
Elisabeth Heller. Das altniederländische Stifterbild. PhD diss., Universität München. Munich, 1976, p. 119.
V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, p. 115.
Paul Hills. "Leonardo and Flemish Painting." Burlington Magazine 122 (September 1980), pp. 609–10, notes that had the central panel our portraits framed (presumably with a Virgin and Child) reached Florence in the mid-1470s, it could have been studied by Leonardo at the moment when he was turning his attention to the theme of the Virgin and Child.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 193, 197, 200, 205, fig. 360 (Maria).
Liana Castelfranchi Vegas. Italie et Flandres dans la peinture du XVe siècle. Milan, 1984, pp. 195–96, ill. (color) [Italian ed., 1983].
Roberto Salvini. Banchieri fiorentini e pittori di Fiandria. Modena, 1984, pp. 37, 59, figs. 104–5 (color).
James Snyder. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. New York, 1985, p. 186, ill.
Guy Bauman. "Early Flemish Portraits, 1425–1525." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 43 (Spring 1986), pp. 51, 53–56, 58, ill., considers plausible a date of execution between their marriage in 1470 and the birth of their first child in September 1471; suggests that the portraits served as models for those in the Turin Passion, which they would therefore predate; observes that the fine black on black pattern on Tommaso's silk damask jacket has becone nearly invisible.
Walter Prevenier Wim Blockmans. The Burgundian Netherlands. Cambridge, 1986, p. 332, fig. 97 (Tommaso, in color).
Introduction by James Snyder inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 11, 36–37, ill. (color), suggests that Tommaso may have comissioned the portraits to commemorate the couple's marriage in 1470.
M. Comblen-Sonkes with the collaboration of Ignace Vandevivere. Les Musées de l'Institut de France [Les primitifs flamands, 1 Corpus de la peinture des anciens pays-bas mérodionaux au quinzième siècle, vol. 15]. Vol. 15, Brussels, 1988, pp. 8, 69, 84.
M. C. Mendes-Atanázio. "Il trittico Portinari." Revue des archéologues et historiens d'art de Louvain 22 (1989), pp. 18, 23, believes the portraits were brought to Florence in October 1478, where Memling's likeness of Maria served as the model for her face and costume in Hugo's Portinari Triptych; observes, nevertheless, that she seems at least ten years older in Hugo's portrayal.
Hans J. van Miegroet. Gerard David. Antwerp, 1989, p. 105.
Lorne Campbell. Renaissance Portraits. New Haven, 1990, pp. 16, 22, pl. (color), notes that Memling subjects Maria's portrait to personal and contemporary ideals of beauty by raising her brows, elongating her nose, and diffusing the bone structure of her face; sees a striking resemblance to the idealized head of the Virgin in Lisbon (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga), a panel by Memling of the same size and approximately the same date.
Barbara G. Lane. "The Patron and the Pirate: The Mystery of Memling's Gdansk 'Last Judgment'." Art Bulletin 73 (December 1991), p. 633, figs. 17, 19.
Ronald W. Lightbown. Mediaeval European Jewellery, with a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum. London, 1992, pp. 286–87, ill. in color (Maria), discusses the collar worn by Maria in the context of similar examples.
Maryan W. Ainsworth, Selected by Guy C. Bauman, and Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 24, 74–75, nos. 16a–b, ill. (color), notes that the decorative hennin of Maria Baroncelli (now visible only through x-radiography) was replaced by a more modest one in the final version, perhaps out of deference to the devotional subject of the lost central panel.
Valentin Vermeersch et al. inBruges and Europe. Ed. Valentin Vermeersch. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 194, 196–97, 334, ill. (color).
Roberta Ferrazza. Palazzo Davanzati e le collezioni di Elia Volpi. Florence, 1993, pp. 90–91, 136 n. 55, ill., mentions them among works formerly in the Volpi collection, Florence.
Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Barbara Burn. New York, 1993, p. 123, ill. (color).
Jochen Sander. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel, 1400–1550. Mainz, 1993, pp. 301–3, ill., sees the influence of Italian relief portraits in the use of a trompe-l'oeil frame that differs in color from the background; notes that this device ultimately derives from the Italian portrait medal tradition.
Bernhard Ridderbos. "In de suizende stilte van de binnenkamer: Interpretaties van het Arnolfini–portret." Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 44 (1993), p. 70, ill.
Hans Belting and Christiane Kruse. Die Erfindung des Gemäldes: Das erste Jahrhundert der niederländischen Malerei. Munich, 1994, p. 231, ill.
Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent, 1994, pp. 30–31, 34, 100–103, 108, 110, 130–31, 258, 316, 336, 366, 370, no. 9, ill. (color, overall and details of both portraits), believes the devotional triptych to which our panels belonged most likely stayed in Bruges with Tommaso until 1497 and suggests that van der Goes saw Maria's portrait there, using it as the basis for his depiction of her in his Uffizi triptych; notes that in our portraits and several others from this period the artist places the figures in front of a trompe l'oeil stone frame, enhancing the illusion of proximity to the viewer.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Hans Memling as a Draughtsman." Hans Memling: Essays. Ed. Dirk De Vos. Ghent, 1994, pp. 85–86, figs. 17–18 (Maria, and x-radiograph of Maria), notes that x-radiography reveals that Maria's hennin was originally decorated with pearls forming the letters "T" and "M" for Tommaso and Maria, as it is in Hugo's Portinari Altarpiece, and suggests that such a jewelled hennin may have been "deemed too conspicuous a show of opulence in the presence of the Virgin and Child, most likely the now lost object of Maria's veneration".
Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: Catalogue. Exh. cat., Groeninge Museum, Bruges. Ghent, 1994, pp. 16, 27, 50–51, 57, 150, 156, 202.
Peter Klein. "Dendrochronological Analysis of Panels of Hans Memling." Hans Memling: Essays. Ed. Dirk De Vos. Ghent, 1994, p. 103, gives estimated felling dates for the panels used in these portraits.
Maximiliaan P. J. Martens. "De Opdrachtgevers van Hans Memling." Hans Memling: Essays. Ed. Dirk De Vos. Ghent, 1994, pp. 24–25, fig. 13 (Maria).
Paul Eeckhout inLes primitifs flamands et leur temps. Ed. Brigitte de Patoul and Roger van Schoute. Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994, pp. 462–63, ill. (color).
Maryan W. Ainsworth. Petrus Christus: Renaissance Master of Bruges. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, p. 6.
John Oliver Hand. Hans Memling's Saint John the Baptist & Saint Veronica. Exh. cat.Washington, 1994, unpaginated, figs. 7–8.
Liana Castelfranchi. "Firenze e la ritrattistica di Memling." Scritti per l'Instituto Germanico di Storia dell'Arte di Firenze. Ed. Cristina Acidini–Luchinat et al. Florence, 1997, pp. 151–52, 156 n. 1.
Frédéric Elsig. "La 'Passion' de Turin: Un séjour de Memling à la cour de Savoie en 1476?" Histoire de l'art no. 39 (October 1997), pp. 91–93, ill.
Víctor I. Stoichita. The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Meta-Painting. Cambridge, 1997, pp. 58–59, 290 n. 47, fig. 35.
Jos Koldeweij inLa pittura nei Paesi Bassi. Ed. Bert W. Meijer. Milan, 1997, vol. 1, p. 117.
Mary Sprinson de Jesús inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. vii, 3, 19, 35, 44, 66, 74, 141, 154, 160, 162–66, 169–70, 174, 176, 178, 194, no. 27, ill. (color, both panels, and color detail of Maria).
Charles Sterling and Maryan W. Ainsworth inThe Robert Lehman Collection. Vol. 2, Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings. New York, 1998, pp. 9–10 n. 4.
Jean C. Wilson. Paintings in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages: Studies in Society and Visual Culture. University Park, Pa., 1998, pp. 54–58, 77, 215 n. 48, figs. 18 and 19.
John Oliver Hand. "New York. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 140 (December 1998), p. 855, ill.
Karen Wilkin. "A Northern Renaissance at the Metropolitan." New Criterion (November 1998), p. 50.
Francisco Fernández Pardo et al., ed. Las tablas flamencas en la ruta Jacobea. Exh. cat., Claustro de la Iglesia de Palacio, Logroño. San Sebastián, Spain, 1999, p. 150, ill.
Michael Rohlmann. "Flanders and Italy, Flanders and Florence. Early Netherlandish Painting in Italy and its Particular Influence on Florentine Art: An Overview." Italy and the Low Countries—Artistic Relations: The Fifteenth Century. Florence, 1999, p. 50, in a discussion of Italian artists' adoption of Northern ideas related to the organization of picture space, compares Piero di Cosimo's Saint Mary Magdalen [Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica] in Rome with our portrait of Maria Portinari; notes that the subject in both pictures is "shown against an opaque, dark background and appears to come forward out of the picture plane by cutting across a 'trompe-l'oeil' stone frame".
Louis Alexander Waldman. "New Documents for Memling's Portinari Portraits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Apollo 153 (February 2001), pp. 28–33, ill. in color, confirms through archival research that the panels were the wings of a triptych with a Virgin and Child at its center; notes that this small altarpiece was inherited by Tommaso's son Francesco and later bequeathed by him to the nuns of the hospital of S. Maria Nuova in Florence.
Paula Nuttall et al. in Till-Holger Borchert. The Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting, 1430–1530. Exh. cat., Groeningemuseum, Bruges. Ghent, 2002, pp. 85, 180, 199, 201–2 n. 9.
Marina Belozerskaya. Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe. Cambridge, 2002, pp. 242–43, figs. 64–65.
Dirk De Vos. The Flemish Primitives: The Masterpieces. Antwerp, 2002, p. 144, ill. 34.
Margaret Koster. "New Documentation for the Portinari Altar-piece." Burlington Magazine 145 (March 2003), pp. 169–70, ill. (color), publishes Tommaso's will and new information about his later career from the recently found Portinari archive; challenges the idea that he died destitute; presents evidence that he continued to represent Lorenzo de Medici abroad even after the failure of the Medici bank in Bruges and served as Florentine ambassador on numerous occassions; points out that Maria was the executor of her husband's will in 1501.
Paula Nuttall. From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400–1500. New Haven, 2004, pp. 57, 59, 64–65, 70–72, 260, 272 nn. 45, 60, p. 290 n. 13, p. 292 n. 7, colorpls. 40, 50, 67, 68 (overall and detail of both), discusses at length Tommaso's role in the culture, politics, and business life of Bruges.
Lorne Campbell inMemling's Portraits. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, pp. 52, 54, 57, 61, ill. pl. 2a–b (color).
Maryan W. Ainsworth inMemling's Portraits. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, pp. 92–93, 95–96, 99–102, 106–7, ill. (color, overall and detail, and x-radiograph)
Paula Nuttall inMemling's Portraits. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, pp. 68, 70, 73–74, 78, ill. pl. 2 (color).
Till-Holger Borchert. Memling's Portraits. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, pp. 151, 164, 167–68, 175.
Peter Klein inMemling's Portraits. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, pp. 180–81, provides a tabulated dendrochronological analysis of panels attributed to Hans Memling.
Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 212, figs. 117–18 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].
Bernhard Ridderbos in "Objects and Questions." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, pp. 115, 121 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].
Catheline Périer-d'Ieteren. Dieric Bouts: The Complete Works. Brussels, 2006, p. 210, fig. 199 (x-radiograph of Maria), remarks that Memling's faces rarely show any underdrawing as "the powdery residue of black chalk would have been visible through the diaphanous modelling"; suggests that the "thin yet confident incised lines" outlining Maria's face here may be a sign of the transfer through tracing of a detailed preliminary drawing from life.
Hugo van der Velden. "Diptych Altarpieces and the Principle of Dextrality." Essays in Context: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych. Ed. John Oliver Hand and Ron Spronk. Cambridge, Mass., 2006, p. 149 n. 14 [published in conjunction with the 2006 exh. cat., "Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych"].
Pascale Syfer-d'Olne et al. The Flemish Privitives IV: Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Vol. 4, Masters with Provisional Names. Brussels, 2006, p. 412 n. 21, compare the clothing worn by the female donor in the Master of 1473's Jan de Witte Triptych with that worn by Maria Portinari in our panel.
Diane Wolfthal. "Florentine Bankers, Flemish Friars, and the Patronage of the Portinari Altarpiece." Cultural Exchange Between the Low Countries and Italy (1400–1600). Ed. Ingrid Alexander-Skipnes. Turnhout, Belgium, 2007, pp. 2, 16.
Susanne Franke. "Between Status and Spiritual Salvation: 'The Portinari triptych' and Tommaso Portinari's concern for his 'memoria'." Simiolus 33, no. 3 (2007–8), pp. 135–36, 138–39, fig. 9, notes that these portraits and Hugo's donor portraits in the Portinari Triptych (Uffizi, Florence) mimic contemporary portraits of the Duke and Duchesses of Burgundy, and sees them as part of Tommaso's "marketing strategy" and striving for social status within Bruges and the court of Charles the Bold; notes that documents in the Bruges City Archives reveal that he planned to live out his life in Bruges and be buried there in the church of St. James; believes Tommaso originally intended both the Uffizi triptych and the small devotional triptych to which our portraits belonged to remain in his adopted city, presumably in the family chapel in the church of St. James; compares the appearance of the Portinaris in Memling's and Hugo's portraits with that of Charles the Bold and Isabella of Bourbon in two anonymous contemporary portraits (Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent), noting that the couples not only resemble each other, but the costumes and haircuts of the men are quite similar, as are the necklaces, necklines, and hennins of the women; adds that, just as the initials of Charles and Margaret decorate the latter's hennin, the initials of Maria and Tommaso are visible in the underdrawing, as part of the original plan for the hennin in our panel (see Ainsworth 1994).
Bert W. Meijer et al. inFirenze e gli antichi Paesi Bassi 1430–1530, dialoghi tra artisti: da Jan van Eyck a Ghirlandaio, da Memling a Raffaello . . . Ed. Bert W. Meijer. Exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence. Livorno, 2008, pp. 27, 54, 138, 184, 190.
Margaret L. Koster. Hugo van der Goes and the Procedures of Art and Salvation. London, 2008, p. 85, fig. 41 (color).
Barbara G. Lane. Hans Memling: Master Painter in Fifteenth-Century Bruges. London, 2009, pp. 81, 83, 90 n. 14, pp. 95, 118, 150, 170 n. 17, pp. 199–202, 206, 216–17 nn. 31, 66, pp. 278, 289, 292, 295–96, 298 n. 6 to no. 53, p. 316 n. 1 to no. 68, no. 50, figs. 113–14.
Maryan W. Ainsworth inMan, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, pp. 18, 238, 256, fig. 15 (Maria; color).
Julia Gerth. Wirklichkeit und Wahrnehmung: Hans Memlings Turiner Passion und die Bildgruppe der Passionspanoramen. Berlin, 2010, p. 24, figs. 17–18.
Lynn F. Jacobs. Opening Doors: The Early Netherlandish Triptych Reinterpreted. University Park, Pa., 2012, pp. xii, 168, 322 n. 56, fig. 73.
Catheline Périer-d'Ieteren inL'héritage de Rogier van der Weyden: La peinture à Bruxelles 1450–1520. Ed. Brigitte de Patoul and Beatrijs Wolters van der Wey. Exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels. Tielt, 2013, pp. 70–71 n. 8.
Barbara G. Lane inMemling: Rinascimento fiammingo. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2014, pp. 29, 31, 36 nn. 57, 68.
Federica Veratelli in Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Memling: Rinascimento fiammingo. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat.Milan, 2014, pp. 57, 62 (Tommaso), 64 n. 66 (Maria), figs. 1–2 (color).
Till-Holger Borchert inMemling: Rinascimento fiammingo. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2014, p. 200, under no. 39, p. 220, under no. 49.
Mieke Parez inMemling: Rinascimento fiammingo. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome. Milan, 2014, p. 229.
Virginia Brilliant inPiero di Cosimo: The Poetry of Painting in Renaissance Florence. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2015, p. 167, figs. 1, 2 (color), under no. 21, suggests that Piero's "Saint Mary Magdalen" of about 1500–1505 (Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini, Rome) was influenced by these two pictures, which were brought to Florence in about 1500.
Bert W. Meijer inPiero di Cosimo, 1462–1522: pittore eccentrico fra Rinascimento e Maniera. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi. Florence, 2015, pp. 142, 147 n. 28, fig. 10 (color, Maria).
Everett Fahy inPiero di Cosimo, 1462–1522: pittore eccentrico fra Rinascimento e Maniera. Exh. cat., Galleria degli Uffizi. Florence, 2015, p. 234.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, p. 268, nos. 146–47, ill. pp. 154–55, 268 (color, overall, and detail of Maria).
John Marciari inHans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece. Ed. John Marciari. Exh. cat., Morgan Library & Museum, New York. London, 2016, pp. 29, 33, 43 n. 22.
Till-Holger Borchert inHans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece. Ed. John Marciari. Exh. cat., Morgan Library & Museum, New York. London, 2016, p. 61 n. 20.
Maryan W. Ainsworth. "Hugo van der Goes and Portraiture." The Primacy of the Image in Northern European Art, 1400–1700: Essays in Honor of Larry Silver. Leiden, 2017, p. 33.