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Title The Arnolfini Portrait, Jan Van Eyck
Library The National Gallery
Date 1434
Description This mysterious work is likely to be a portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, but it 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. The ornate Latin signature translates as 'Jan van Eyck was here 1434'. 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.
Document Type Painting
Primary Commodity Miscellaneous
Theme Trade and Commerce; Advertising and Consumption; Art and Literature
Keywords merchant, social class, clothes, fur, fancy goods, commerce, fashion, furniture, candles, consumption, fruit, oranges, importation, exportation
Region Europe
Places Belgium, Bruges
Copyright Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, © The National Gallery, London.