Triptychon der Rosenkranzbruderschaft

(Originally published 2018-09-22 on arrayedindreams.com, updated March 29 2021)

In 2020 the Deutsche Inschriften Online project shared a wonderfully clear image of the restored Triptychon der Rosenkranzbruderschaft now housed at the St Lambertus basilica in Dusseldorf.

This painting is extremely important in understanding the context of Anne of Cleves, especially to reveal the similarities and differences to dress of wealthy citizens of Cologne and helps to cement clear political and cultural connections to neighbouring regions.

The inscription reads: MARIA. IUL(IAE) ET MONT(IUM) DUCISSA / ANNA AEMILIA FILIAa) 1528 (emphasis my own.)

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.

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

Anna is the figure to the left, Maria (her mother) is in the gold brocatelle, and that leaves Amalia to the right.

Anne’s depiction in particular is extraordinary. At first glance she appears very out of place.

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.

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

Anne’s hat is clearly not 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, by Emeza von Kappenberg. And even seems to be the same colour. From what is visible, it looks like it has slashes around the flattened crown rather than the narrow flaps arranged over the front.

This is found in woodcuts and paintings of Saxony and Bavaria.

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.

The distinction between these three figures and all the attendants is marked.

Of the thirty two figures 21 wear linen headcoverings, 5 wear black hoods/veils, and 6 either have hair exposed or are wearing gold of red headgear- most likely indicating they are young unmarried girls, probably under the age of 20.

Triptychon der Rosenkranzbruderschaft, 1524, in der Stiftskirche St. Lambertus in Düsseldorf, restored in 1678.


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