Arnolfini Portrait

Jan van Eyck, 1434
The National Gallery, London

Jan van Eyck is considered the “founder” of early Netherlandish painting, and in many respects the Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife is the quintessential example of his art. Through his extraordinary mastery of technique and execution in oil paint, Van Eyck presents in exquisite detail the illusion of reality – an aristocratic couple in their magnificently appointed reception room. The centrally located mirror reflects two visitors, seemingly greeted by Alnolfini’s hand gesture, thereby extending the perceived space of the scene to include the viewer’s own sphere. The inscription above the mirror – Johannes de Eyck fuit hic. 1434 – offers indisputable proof of the date the artist was present as both painter and friend. Otherwise, the work is an enigma, eliciting endless scholarly debates over the identity of the couple, and whether or not an unfolding narrative exists with concomitant symbolic meaning in the objects in the room.

Maryan Ainsworth, Álvaro Saieh Curator of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

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Van Eyck's works united

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Podcast on the artwork

The Lonely Palette Episode 41: Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434)

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A Stitch in Time

Recreating the historical clothing on the Arnolfini Portrait

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Girl in a Green Gown

A book by Art Historian Carola Hicks

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