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Art History: Jan van Eyck Essay Example

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Art History: Jan van Eyck

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Art History: Jan van Eyck. The bridegroom presents clogs and a pair of them is seen lying removed. It is possible that as a further record of the marriage, the painter signs above the convex mirror as ‘Jan van Eyck has been here. 1434’ implying that he has been present to witness the ceremony or that he has been present in the chamber to paint the portrait. It can also symbolically stand for the certificate for marriage.In addition, the painting juxtaposes the mundane and the religious and it is symbolic. There is a rich air about the chamber with its furnishings. The merchant’s stance shows a forced holiness and his removed clogs tell that they both stand on a holy ground or solemn occasion. There are pictures from the Passion of the Christ on frame of the convex mirror and a small statue of Saint Margaret for childbirth.

Oranges symbolize fertility and the solitary candle has its religious connotations apart from it being a part of Flemish marriage ritual. The dog stands for faithfulness in marital bond. The couple holds hands to say they are united in marriage. This has parallels in the famous sermons and teachings of Bernardino of 15th century who promised both God and money to the emerging middle class merchants. Arnolfini (the merchant) stands for the progress in the economic condition of the mercantile middle class who competed with the aristocrats and nobles. The private patronage proves that the English society has moved from the feudal medieval period to the merchant culture.The portrait of a merchant and his wife displaying their rich chamber but posing pious may refer to the transition from medieval, authorized by the Church and King into the trade culture. The realism of the painting is seen in the posture of the couple as uneasiness of posing for portrait visible. Altogether, the rich painting is an example of the changing trends in the social conditions in the 15th century then affecting art positively attracting private patrons. It also captures the Flemish marriage customs and the combination of the mundane and religious through various symbols. It is a record of the times immediately after the medieval period moving into the bourgeois. Art History: Jan van Eyck.

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Work Cited

Eyck, Jan van. Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. National Gallery, London. Web Gallery of Art. 08 April 2009 <http://gardenofpraise.com/art29.htm>
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