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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Painting of the Month (26) Feb 2012: van Eyck

The Arnolfini Wedding, Jan van Eyck
Jan van Eyck painting this fascinating picture in 1434. It hangs in the National Gallery in London. 
It has been the subject of much speculation and scholarly debate. The bride, you may notice, appears to be 'with child'. This has led to conjecture that it is not a wedding portrait. The couple are wearing expensive furs; sable for him and ermine for her. His hand is raised as if taking an oath. The small dog is a symbol of fidelity in art.
The painting is very unusual for it's time for various reasons. The image of daylight on the subjects is very 'modern' and very unusually the artist has shown a clever reflection in the convex mirror on the back wall (detail below). In this reflection one can observe the backs of the subjects and the artist at work!
Finally, here is another more modern version of the picture which demonstrates it's place as an icon in the modern world:

14 comments:

klahanie said...

Greetings bazza,
Very good and his hand was like that because he was wondering who had got her pregnant. Nonetheless, a provocative painting and I do like the colours used.
However, I much prefer the modern version of the painting :)
Cheerio, odd chap, I mean old chap....

David said...

Dear bazza,
At last a painting I am familiar with. I love the convex mirror detail. It must have been a nightmare to actually paint.
Wonderful picture, bazza. Thanks for showing it here.
Very Best Wishes,
David

John said...

Hi bazza,
Maybe it`s just the style of the dress!
Very unusual painting, the mirror detail is amazing!
Thank you for continued education in all thigs artistic!
J
Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of Sir Tom Eagerly:
Bazza, old thing - he's wearing a dress. Are you certain 'he' isn't with child. Looks like a right Nancy-boy to me.
But then my eyesight isn't what it was!
Bottoms up, if you'll pardon the expression.

bazza said...

Hi Gary: I think he's saying, "Now hold on just a cotton-picking minute. The child is not my son, Billy Jean"!
Miss Piggy does have her attractions, it must be said.

bazza said...

Hi David: Great technical skill isn't it? Incredible that is was painted in the 1400's.

bazza said...

Hello John: As I have said before, I blog about things that interest me; if you find it an 'education' that's terrific.
I suppose that's what happens in reverse when I visit your wonderful blog.

bazza said...

Ah, Sir Tom. What are we gonna do with you? I don't think any part of you can be 'what it was'; I suppose most of it is internally pickled by now! At least you didn't invoke the name of Rolf Harris this time.

THE SNEE said...

Hi Bazza,

I am very familiar with this painting, but am even more excited to see it than usual since we are studying fabric and drapery in my drawing class now. I'm supposed to copy (supposed is the operative word) a draped figure by DaVinci. I'm practicing and practicing and practicing, but perfection still eludes me...sigh.....I enjoyed your post and just hand it to the muppets. They're iconic! Hope you are well.

Kelly said...

That's very cool, imaginative and clever how the artist did that with the mirror. The painting, itself, with the pale man and woman that is perhaps, with child, is fascinating, incredibly detailed and to me, a bit creepy. Can't really articulate why I feel that way about it (the creepy part). I like it, though. I like the Kermit and Miss Piggy version, too. Very funny.

bazza said...

Hello Snee Lady: Drawing fabrics draped across subjects is notoriously difficult. In an art exam I once had to draw semi-opaque tissue paper draped across a coil of rope! Now that was tricky!
It's good that you are back blogging again but one ought not to feel pressure to always be posting. I think a break does you good now and then!
Best regards to you.

bazza said...

Kezza: Now that you've said it, I looked at the picture again and I know what you mean; it is a bit creepy. However I do find it fascinating and it's well worthy of a little analysis.
I think a picture that makes you feel something (anything!) is good.

dcrelief said...

Takes me back a bit; love this old one! Though my computer does not show the wonderful indigo/purple shade of his garment... my old art book does. Perfect color wheel opposites!

The ghostly white faces have the 'powdered' look of 'then' future wigs! Or aliens?

I think he's turning his hand as if to say, "Talk to the hand, as we're headed to bed." I don't know, but it seems tedious to stay excited when removing all the draped clothing... unless of course they had 'trap-doors'?

A beautiful example of van Eyck's wet on wet technique; glaze over oil paints. Thanks, Bazza.

bazza said...

dcrelief: Yes, you make a good point about the colour opposites which is a bit lost on screen.
It's so intriguing when an artist with superb technical skill such as van Eyck adds so much more in the way of social signifiers which convey a vast amount of information to us from nearly seven hundred years ago.
Also I think Miss Piggy looks good in green.