Exhibition: In search of Sophia


There is no written information about the time when von Brukenthals pendant portraits were realized. Thus, their dating was done on historical and biographical criteria, but also based on aesthetic surgery.


Samuel von Brukenthal’s portrait is dated 1765/1766 and was painted in Vienna on the occasion of him been awarded the Hungarian Royal Order St. Stephen (1765) or, more plausible, on the occasion of his appointment as the President of the Aulic Chancellery of Transylvania in Vienna (1766). Only the second occasion justifies ring with diamonds in the shape of Maria Theresia’s monogram. Maria Theresia continued to keep the royal title and the administration of the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen even after her son Joseph II was crowned as King of Hungary.
Sophia Katharina’s pendant portrait was painted the same time with Samuel’s.
(Dr. Alexandru Sonoc, Head of Art Galleries of Brukenthal National Museum)

According to present criteria I assume Sophia von Brukenthal to have been about 40 years of age when the picture was painted.
My estimate is based on a beginning upper eyelid blepharochalasis (skin and tissue excess on the upper eyelid) and on tear troughs in a non-advanced stage. In addition one can detect a sagging of the cheeks with bilateral jowls on the jawline as well as a discreet submental lipomatosis, respectively an excess of the submental skin. Since the hair is either powdered or partly amplified by a wig it cannot be included in the estimate. Neither can I include the neck, nor the median part of the cleavage, since they are covered by a big pearl necklace.
The subcutaneous tissue on both hands not being atrophic, which would be a conspicuous sign of advanced age, underlines my age estimate of Sophia. The visible part of the right wrist and the middle hand in the direct neighborhood of the thumb reveal however, that it is not the hand of a 20 to 30 year old woman.

(Prof. Norbert Pallua, M.D., President of EBOPRAS, Vice-President of WFCMC, Parliamentarian of the Board of Directors of ISPRAS, Secretary of the ISPRES)