But more recently I wanted to know more about the person behind that smile. Who was she? Where did she come from? Who was her family? She did not wear any rings. Was this portrait an engagement gift?
The archives at the Ringling museum held several details: the name of the sitter (Engelberta van Brienen), the fact that John Ringling had bought the painting in London, in c. 1930 (for £1000), the name of the painter
Maes), who painted it in the mid 1670s and that in 1675 Engelberta married Paulus Voet
van Winssen, who later would become mayor of Utrecht (in 1680, 1681 en 1684).
So far I have traced 13 generations and more than 500 descendants (spouses included). More than 150 now live in all parts of the world. Some descendants have written a letter to their "Grandma".
This is a growing project. It will increasingly contain more information through the cooperation and contribution of her living descendants.