söndag 15 januari 2017

Going down the famous rabbit hole

As active within the SCA you choose a persona and a name to use within the society. I changed my name somewhat some years ago as I had trouble documenting the name I formerly used and I also strived for something more fitting for my favourite period and region. Hence the Tucher as my surname. It was easily documented and it tied me to some of my favourite female portraits from late 15th Century Nuremberg, the ones of Felicitas and Elisabeth Tucher, both painted by Albrecht Dürer during the final decades of the 15th Century.

When you base your persona on such a wellknown family as the Tuchers of Nuremberg (you could compare them to the Medicis from Italy durong the same timespan) the possibilities on persona-related research are endless. As I visited Nuremberg for the first time my friends took me to see Tucher Schloss, one of many homes of the Tucher family, and there I bought a book on the family, its history, connections, impact on the arts, their trade routes, yes a lot of things to geek over.

And as I was preparing for my elevation to the Order of the Laurel my friend Elsa gave me a unique gift, that of trying to find out more about the family through the family archives still preserved in Nuremberg. This is now an ongoing project and I am soo looking forward to see the results.

But in the meantime I can do some research on my own, based on some of the many family portraits and the Family tree and other facts in the book. The Tucher family were huge patrons of the arts and commisioned portraits as well as more official art for churches. And as far as persona research goes, following the routes of their buisness is a potential goldmine.

Focusing on Felicitas and Elisabeth, married to two brothers in the younger family line of the Tuchers, and their mother in law, Ursula Tucher, here are some facts.
Ursula Tucher, second wife of Hans VI Tucher. Portrait by Michael Wolgemut.
Hans VI Tucher married his second wife, Ursula Harsdörffer, in 1481. His eldest son, Hans XI, married Felicitas Rieter the year after, 1482. His brother Nikolaus II married Elisabeth Pusch in 1491. The portrait of Ursula was painted in 1481 and it is a double portrait with her husband to be, Hans, holding the ring.

Felicitas Tucher, portrayed by Albrecht Dürer

Elisabeth Tucher, portrayed by Albrect Dürer
The portraits of the daughter in laws are clearly painted about a decade later, most likely around 1491 when Elisabeth was married to Nikolaus. Notice the ring in her hand? These two later portraits were painted by Albrecht Dürer, who was an apprentice of Michael Wolgemut who painted Ursulas portrait. Both of them lived and worked in Nürnberg and they were among the most famous artists who got commisions from the Tucher family. Dürers portraits definetly shows some influence from the italian art that he studies on his travels.

The portraits of Felicitas and Elisabeth show them wearing similar dresses with gesperrketchen. I have been wondering about the letters in the ketchen, HT in Felicitas portrait and NT in Elisabeths portrait. And as I looked into the Family tree this morning, finding them and their husbands there, it was suddenly clear. It is the initials of their husbands. Strange for our modern minds perhaps, marking your wife like that.

One has to wonder how life was for these three women, most likely living together. Living in one of the richest families and meeting with some of the finest artists of their time. Felicitas married into the family just one year after her mother-in-law, were they friends as they most likely were of similar age?

To be continued...

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