Bruyn Portraits of Anne of Cleves

This stunningly beautiful portrait of Anne has been variously attributed to Hans Wertinger or considered to be a copy of the Barthyl Bruyn portrait originally commissioned.

However this portrait is clearly the more sensitively worked of the various copies and so it more likely to be the original.

Edited from: https://rosenbach.org/blog/long-lost-triplets/

The sensitivity of her features and luminosity of the light on her face and hands is very reminiscent of a well documented portrait by Bruyn of Elisabeth Bellinghausen.

https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/SK-A-2559 Portrait of Elisabeth Bellinghausen (1493-1555), SK-A-2559, painter: Bartholomäus Bruyn (I), 1538 – 1539, oil on panel

The portrait also shows a clear familiarity of dress of the North Rhine style, which was not well understood in England.

The skirts of Anne’s region overlapped at the front, which is why the three bands on her skirt are offset. This offset could be on either side and appears to have been possible to switch as most depictions show the guarding is also applied to the side of the skirt that sits under, and the de Bruyn Trachtenbuch depicts as turned back on each side.

Closing on our left:

Closing on our right:

Both sides open and turned back:

Her spiral paned sleeves appear to be after the Hapsburg Court fashion and the tapering of the panes into her wrist is very carefully rendered with natural folds in the fabric realistically depicted, the vertical slashing is also seen in the Hapsburg Court portraits, also in Bavaria.

The headdess is very similar to those worn by figures depicting women of the duchy of Jullich (of Jullich-Kleve-Berg) in the second Trachtenbuch of Christoph Weiditz- An artist not familiar with the dress of the region. And the same style can be seen in depictions of other noble women from the North Rhine. This seems to follow the Hapsburg Court style as already seen.

Her belt has an edging of velvet seen in round belts of the North Rhine.

The St John’s copy thus can be seen to be likely a copy of the Rosenbach.

The costume is not as well understood and there is a hardness in the light that is not typical of the work attributed to Bruyn himself.

Before restoration.
After restoration.

Perhaps this was a copy by a novice but it seems more likely to be a local copy in England.

The belt is missing the usual dark velvet edging and the linen strip around the face is slightly elongated on our right.

In contrast to what history might suggest Anne was well regarded during her lifetime in England and so it is not unreasonable to consider that copies of her portrait might be desired by either her ladies in waiting or others.

Much has been made of the overpainting of the sitter’s nose in this copy. However as can be seen there are some subtle changes made before the restoration was undertaken. While the overpainting has been observed to be original it does not neccessarily mean it was undertaken to flatter the sitter.

None of the other portraits suggest the same kind of alteration neither do they hide the proportions. In fact this portrait has slightly exaggerated details in general, especially in her chin, fingers and unnatural smoothness of her sleeves.

The symmetry in the skirt is also very suggestive of an artist unfamiliar with the offset nature of skirt closures of Anne’s dress. There would not be a desire to make this symmetric if this were painted in Cologne by Bruyn.

There is one more likely contemporaneous copy in the Witt Library.

Witt library copy.

This copy does maintain the offset skirt closure but the body is less constrained by her dress.

This portrait was also copied at other times.