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Arnolfini and his Bride....ANNOTATED!

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Oranges represent wealth. This painting is from Northern Europe, where citrus fruits would be very rare. Only the richest people would have been able to afford them. The orange was also associated with the Medici family. The Medicis were the richest family in Florence Italy, and to have oranges in a painting like this probably meant you did business with this family. Learn more about the Medici family by watching the attached video. www.youtube.com http://www.pbs.org/empires/ - Lorenzo de' Medici becomes a driving force of the Renaissance; monk Savonarola promotes fundamentalist purification of Florence...
The dog represents loyalty, or fidelity. That is where the name Fido comes from. Dogs are known as incredibly loyal, and since this is a marriage portrait, the vows of Mr and Mrs Arnolfini represent the loyalty each is supposed to give the other. Note the detail in the how the dog was painted. Every piece of hair is individually painted. artchronicler.files.wordpress.com
The gargoyle on the furniture represents the devil and temptation. As a wealthy businessman, there will be many opportunities for Giovanni to cheat on his wife. So, as he takes her hand and says his vows, there will be constant temptation throughout his life. Compare this symbol to the dog.
This painting is from the Netherlands, and a traditional wedding gift was clogs. By painting this in the image, it helps to confirm that this is a portrait of a wedding. There is a second pair of clogs on the floor in the back of the room.
The broom is a "duster" of the Renaissance era. It hangs on the side of the room of Mrs Arnolfini, symbolizing that a woman's place in the home. Compare this to the window on the left.
The open window next to Mr, Arnolfini represents that his place is out in the world as a business man. Compare this to the duster on the other side of the room.
While not known for sure why her dressed is pulled up, it could possibly mean that soon they will consumate their marriage. Since this is a wedding portrait, it is doubtful that she is pregnant.
The bed, with the curtains pulled back, on Mrs Arnolfini's side of the room also represent that her place is in the home. The curtains pulled back mean that they soon will consumate their marriage and begin their family.
The quality of clothes that both are wearing show the wealth the couple had.
The text painted on the wall says "Jan Van Eyck was here in 1434". Marriages back in the 1400s could be done anywhere as long as there were witnesses (no need for a priest or judge). By signing the portrait and bearing witness to the ceremony this could be used as an actual marriage certificate. upload.wikimedia.org
The bronze chandelier (another sign of wealth), has only one lit candle, representing the unity created in marriage. This is similar to wedding candles many couples incorporate into their weddings today.
The crystal beads were used as a protector of women in childbirth.
The convex mirror represents the eye of God who can see everything. If you look closely at the image, you will see the witnesses to the wedding in the mirror. Including the artist Jan Van Eyck! Around the mirror are 12 carved images representing the stations of the cross. artchronicler.files.wordpress.com
Not everyone agrees about everything in the world of art. Check out this video to hear a discussion of potential different meanings of the painting! www.youtube.com Jan Van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, tempera and oil on wood, 1434 (National Gallery, London) HD Version here: http://www.youtube.com/w...
Intrigued by the works of Jan Van Eyck? Check out this site to see more of his work! www.jan-van-eyck.org Jan Van Eyck - Homepage. The complete works, large resolution images, ecard, rating, slideshow and more! One of the largest Jan Van Eyck resource on the web!