MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jan van Eyck - The Arnolfini Portrait

My second choice is not original. For this is one of the most celebrated paintings of all time, but nontheless, I have to include it. From the very first time I viewed this picture I was both fascinated and enchanted. The Arnolfini Portrait by the alchemist Jan van Eyck, is deceptively complex. Every time you view it, another detail arises. There is also a huge amount of symbolism within the portrait. A list of such symbolism can be found in the Wikipedia article, here.

The most technically brilliant aspect of the painting, and also the most beautiful, is the masterful mirror reflection. Incredibly, van Eyck has managed to capture the lighting through the window, and reflected it into a convex mirror, with perfection. The mirror's centrality is deliberate, it offers us, the viewer, a different persepctive on the picture. It also acts as an advertisment for van Eyck's ability to capture a real scene, by showing a true reflection, of what he has captured, in the mirror itself.


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