Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride
This oil painting was by the popular artist of the time, Jan van Eyck, an artist who played a large role in popularizing oil painting. In the painting we see a couple with joined hands, with man symbolic items located around them. The couple is of Giovanni Arnolfini, a Italian merchant, and his wife. They join hands in a loving manner, while the wife puts one hand on her pregnant belly, and the man with one hand held up. At their feet is a dog, which represents fertility, and is a rare breed at the time, suggesting wealth. Near the dog are shoes, which symbolize sacredness. The fruit behind the man represent and symbolize fertility and marriage, as well as the fall of Adam and Eve. The positioning of the couple also symbolizes gender roles, with the woman being closest to the bed, and domestic interior, and the man being closest to the window, the outside world, which was considered a mans domain. A small detail near the back of the painting is a mirror, in which Jan van Eyck paints himself in with the couple.
Why This Artwork?
This artwork was chosen to show another form of northern renaissance painting, portraits, and their extreme similarity to Italian painting. The artwork was also chosen to help better give a perspective on the symbolism of the time, as well as give the details that may be overlooked by a modern viewer.