This work is a portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami, but is not intended as a record of their wedding. His wife is not pregnant, as is often thought, but holding up her full-skirted dress in the contemporary fashion. Arnolfini was a member of a merchant family from Lucca living in Bruges. The couple are shown in a well-appointed interior.
A carved figure of Saint Margaret(?) appears on the chairback. The dog, shoes, single burning candle, prayer beads, brush, oranges, etc., have been variously interpreted as having religious, nuptial and sexual significance.
The ornate Latin signature translates as 'Jan van Eyck was here 1434'. The similarity to modern graffiti is not accidental. Van Eyck often inscribed his pictures in a witty way. The mirror reflects two figures in the doorway. One may be the painter himself. Arnolfini raises his right hand as he faces them, perhaps as a greeting.
Van Eyck was intensely interested in the effects of light: oil paint allowed him to depict it with great subtlety in this picture, notably on the gleaming brass chandelier.
|Product Code||NG186 CROP 11|
|Artist||Jan van Eyck|
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Mirror Detail from The Arnolfini Portrait Print
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