Triptychon der Rosenkranzbruderschaft

This painting is extremely important in understanding both known portraits of Anne of Cleves, especially as it reveals the similarities and differences to dress of wealthy citizens of Cologne and helps to cement clear political and cultural connections to neighbouring regions.

None of the figures can be said to be rendered very well compared to other portraits, but that still leaves us with depictions of dress deliberately chosen to signal aspirations and status. Anna is the figure to the left, Maria (her mother) is in the gold brocatelle, and that leaves Amalia to the right.

DI 89, Stadt Düsseldorf, Nr. 51 (Ulrike Spengler-Reffgen), in:, urn:nbn:de:0238-di089d008k0005108.

Status of rank is expressed within the painting by the stark difference in dress between the family and their attendants. All of the attendants to Maria, Anne, and Amalia are dressed in loose robes that are well represented in portraits of wealthy but not noble women of Cologne. Aside from a few very young attendants who have hair exposed, the majority a wear linen headdress that is also frequently depicted in wealthy but not noble women and a few more wear veils suggesting widowhood.

The family however are depicted in rich clothing that would be more familiar in the Germanic states, perhaps unsurprising as by this date Sybilla was married and residing in Saxony. Anne’s depiction in particular is extraordinary.

Anne’s clothing details:

Dresses with the same kind of short paned sleeves can be found in the Codice de Trajes on figures labeled as “der adel im land zu Gilch” and “zu Gilch” (Gilch meaning Juelich), and half length sleeves can be found in a stained glass portrait of Anne’s mother. This kind of mixture of influences is also found in many wooden figures depicting either saints or maidens protected by St Ursula.

The yellow can even be found in other artworks both as an outer and inner layer.

Anne’s headdress details:

Anne is clearly not depicted in the usual shaped item that is familiar from her Holbein portrait and the hundreds of depictions of Cologne women. Instead it appears to be of a kind of Schlappe as found in other parts of the Hapsburg empire, but it is also found in an altarpiece by Bathyl Bruyn, of Emeza von Kappenberg. And even seems to be the same colour.

Anne’s hat however looks like it has a slashed brim with no flaps, and this style is found in woodcuts and paintings from Saxony, Bavaria, and Hungary.

a) b) c) d)

Amalia’s clothing details:

Amalia’s gown with one piece but slashed sleeves is quite characteristic of other Northern Renaissance styles. The way she wears her very iconic headdress is as expected of girls under the age of 20 with her hair braided and looped up to frame her face. Elsewhere they can either plain or heavily decorated. Most often also worn in a similar fashion to Anne with puffs of crimped hair at the sides of her face.

Maria’s clothing details:

Maria’s gown of gold with the lack of centre front seam is also found on other noble women of the North Rhine.

Full images:

From “Land im Mittelpunkt der Mächte: die Herzogtümer Jülich, Kleve, Berg” Städtisches Museum Haus Koekkoek, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf
Boss-Verlag, 1984.

(Originally published 2018-09-22 on, updated March 29 2021, September 2 2021)