I have been so fortunate - the things that have passed through my hands and collections over a lifetime! But I've never seen anything like this, in 4 decades of collecting, scouring museums, tucking the best into my own collections. This is a personal favorite! The painting was done in mid-1700s and commemorates the marriage and the eternal true love of 2 people. Rich in iconography: the dog is a symbol of fidelity; the doves of commitment and love; the garland symbolizes fruitful union (children), and the laid-down quiver and arrows at one Cupid's feet signifies that love has been found, no longer capable of the onslaught of any other loves. The frame the 2 Cupids hold has a heart with fire rising in 2 columns, each of the couple's initials beside the culmination of the rising love, to an eternal life together, as one. It's quite a testimonial to some great love. If only we knew to whom the initials belonged, and the story of their great passionate love. One hopes it did last an eternity. This memento to their love has lasted nearly 300 years. I'm certain it would have had another convex cover glass on the back of the locket-type frame, and I'd bet it would have held a combined plaiting of hair from a brunette and a blond. further memento to their intertwining lives and love. That glass is no longer there, nor is the plaited hair. I can tell this 18k locket type frame comes apart, but it's either been affixed by someone through time, or is stuck. I can't easily separate the halves, so all photos are through a convex cover glass, slight glare resulting. Perhaps, like the 2 lovers it commemorates, the 2 halves of the frame have just clung together so tightly. I'll not be the one to pry it apart. A truly magnificent piece, this!
Very good to excellent condition, the painting is superb with age considered. The locket type frame is 18k gold (acid tested) and should come apart. As noted above, whatever back-side convex glass and hair plaiting was once there is no longer. Lost to time. But the important part - this testimonial to a deep abiding passionate love, remains. Love in that time was not always a part of a marriage. Marriage was often a contract of property and title. I might not be accurate in calling it a memento of a marriage, but I am absolutely accurate in noting it is the memento of such a passionate love. I wonder whose.