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A Lady with Three Suitors

A Lady with Three Suitors

c. 1500

Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, with traces of black chalk

Watermarks: Wheel, similar to Briquet, 1923, no. 13389

Support: Cream(3) laid paper

Sheet: 23 x 19.3 cm (9 1/16 x 7 5/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1956.40

Fun Fact

The simple background of this drawing and its lack of landscape detail suggest that the image may have been a model for a tapestry or other textile.

Description

This mysterious drawing shows an encounter between elegantly dressed members of the noble class. The French inscription above the image suggests that the woman is addressing her suitors and makes it clear that they are concerned with the pursuit of love: He who will conquer my love / This [barrier] must overcome / Neither destroying it nor loosening it / Going neither below it nor above. The style of the clothing reflects French court fashions during the reign of Charles VIII (1483–98), and the subject relates to the tradition of late medieval collections of love riddles that involved verbal exchanges between courtly ladies and gentlemen.

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