Van Eyck exploited the qualities of oil as never before, building up layers of transparent glazes, thus giving him a surface on which to capture objects in the minutest detail and allowing for the preservation of his colours. Nowhere is this better displayed than in this portrait of Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini, a merchant from Lucca and a frequent visitor to Bruges, and his wife Giovanna Cenami. The signature on the back wall in latin- 'Jan Van Eyck was here, 1434' - and his reflection in the mirror has led many to believe that he was a witness to their marriage. The carving of Saint Margaret, the patron saint of childbirth, on the bed, and the presence of the dog - a traditional symbol of faithfulness - accentuate the marital theme."

Jan van Eyck:

       man in a Red Turban

Pg. 628 Fig. 17-13



More Latin:

Johannes de eyck fuit hic 1434 ("Jan van Eyck was here, 1434")

Live Impressions: Many interpretations of richness/wealth. Dog equals infidelity; sense of foreground because of mirror and depth through spatial relationship. Individual portrait of man; A type face of a woman. Relatively small, very soft nuances of light.

Kent State Ohio

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Required Viewing

  • Jan van Eyck:

Man in a Red Turban.

Potrait of Giovanni Arnolfini.

  • Leonardo da Vinci:

Virgin and Saint Anne.

  • William Hogarth:

The Marriage Contract.

  • Joseph Mallord William Turner:

The Fighting "Temeraire,"