Dating Aid

From the #HistoryOfUs series: Portrait Of A Young Lady – Marietta Strozzi, 1462

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Portrait of a Young Lady, “Marietta Strozzi” (c. 1460) by Ascribed to Desiderio da SettignanoBode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

When it comes to dating, friends and family can be helpful… or beyond embarrassing. They want to redo your Tinder profile and offer flirting tips...

... and there's literally nothing more mortifying than your mother saying, "Have you met my daughter? She's single!"

Well-intentioned, if misguided, dating help goes back to at least 15th century Florence.

When young Marietta Strozzi came of age, her parents decided to assist in her romantic life by commissioning a marble bust of their daughter and sending it on a tour of Florence to attract a suitor. The Tinder principle – you choose your best photo and hope that someone will swipe right.

Just that with Tinder you tend not to let your parents choose the picture. Which may be the reason why it’s a little hard to believe now that Marietta was supposed to be the most beautiful girl in all Florence.

Syrakus (around 400-370 BC) by UnknownBode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Equally hard to believe is the story of local legend Bartolomeo Benci...

To woo Marietta, Bartolomeo built a huge effigy of a bleeding heart from branches of laurel, myrtle and cypress, decorated it with carved Cupids, and mounted it on a ten-meter chariot ...

Portrait of a Young Lady, “Marietta Strozzi” (c. 1460) by Ascribed to Desiderio da SettignanoBode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

He then marched it through the city to her house accompanied by a few hundred men-at-arms on foot carrying burning torches and a 150-strong detachment of cavalry, all of them wearing Bartolomeo’s house colours. ...

When they got there, they set the heart and chariot on fire and danced around it while it burned. Marietta watched from her bedroom window, and then everybody decamped to Bartolomeo’s pad where he threw a massive party.

Nevertheless, they did not hook up. In fact Marietta didn’t marry until she was an almost-past-it-by-the-standards-of-the-time old spinster of 23. In the end it remained family business.

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#HistoryOfUs series

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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