Conrad Faber was the ‘house painter’ of the Frankfurt patriciate in the first half of the sixteenth century. This double portrait holds a prominent position among his innumerable likenesses, of which many are quite formulaic in nature. Justinian von Holzhausen, a man of humanist learning, had it painted of himself and his wife. The winged Cupid is unique in painting north of the Alps. With its arrow and bunches of grapes, it invokes sensual love as the foundation of marriage – an astonishingly candid reference to sexuality for the time in which the picture was painted.
For almost 700 years, from 1245 until 1923, the Holzhausens were one of Frankfurt's most important patrician families and prominent members of the Imperial City's town council. More than thirty members of the family served as mayor on some seventy occasions. Until about 1500 the family were merchants on a large scale, but then concentrated on administering their country property and feudal lands. The death of Adolph Freiherr von Holzhausen (1866-1923) marked the end of the older branch of the family on the male side. He bequeathed to the Städel the ancestral portrait gallery of Frankfurt's Holzhausen family, which dated back to the time of the Renaissance. The portrait collection exhibits the particular charm of an ancestral gallery that has been maintained over many generations.