The Arnolfini Portrait

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TheArnolfini Portrait

Thevideo illustrates a discussion between Dr. Zucker and Dr. Harrisregarding the Arnolfini portrait which was done by Van Eyck. Manystudents have been taught that it is the Arnolfini Wedding Portraitthough there have been many arguments concerning what the picturerepresents. It is believed that the portrait does not represent anactual wedding taking place. One theory states that it is a memorialportrait and that the woman on the right had passed away the previousyear. However, it is evident that the painting represents an Italianmerchant working in Bruges. Throughout the portrait, it can beconcluded that he was a wealthy man right from the clothing to thesetting of the house.

Althoughit’s difficult to know what the portrait represents, other peoplesuggest that it is a kind of witnessing of a man giving authority toa woman in legal affairs. Scholars believe that the presence of onecandle in the chandelier represents the presence of God thus a sacredevent is taking place. On the other hand, Arnolfini’s hand is up,and two people are seen in the mirror implying that he might just besimply greeting his visitors. Alternatively, something significantmight be happening since the individuals in the mirror can bewitnesses and the signature that is seen above the mirror reinforcesthis (Johannes Van Eyck was here).

Lookingat the picture from a different view, which is from the mirror thereare scenes from the Passion of Christ painted on the frame of themirror that represents attention to detail. On the contrary, there isa dog in the painting which isn’t expected in a formal portraitsince it is a sign of loyalty and usually common symbols in paintingsof couples. Dr. Zucker also comments on the setting of the house toshow the wealth Arnolfini had. He describes the taste of the carpetand clothes they wore. Dr. Harris adds on by mentioning the presenceof oranges since they were expensive at that time thus a symbol ofwealth. In conclusion, the artist is keenly interested in the lighteffects, and the oil paint enabled him to portray it with inordinatesubtleness in this portrait, and this is evident in Arnolfini`sshoes, the bright brass chandelier, and the oranges among others.


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