Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eyck Essay

981 Words Jan 1st, 2013 4 Pages
“Arnolfini Marriage” is a very famous painting by Jan Van Eyck painted in the early 15th century, which is in the National Gallery in London. According to the Catalogue of the National Gallery, the painting is just a portrait of the couple Arnolfini that is showing their marriage. Waldemar Januszczak, an author and presenter, believes that this portrait was wrongly named and it should have been called “the Arnolfini Pregnancy”. Januszczak believes that Mrs. Arnolfini is pregnant and she is dead at the time this artwork was painted. Januszczak has these proofs for Mrs. Arnolfini to be pregnant; the way that her dress was cut with the bulge on her belly and the protective gesture with comparison to the “Annuciation”, a painting by Van Cleve. …show more content…
Arnolfini being death by the time that this painting was finished. He supported this statement with some historical information of death in childbirth. According to Karen Hearn, a curator, in 1500s women attempted childbirth with fear and concerns because the rate of being death was much higher. Karen Hearn believed that Mrs. Arnolfini died in childbirth and the aspect of this painting is, “if the women died in childbirth, there would be a record, an image of her. It would take its place in the family portrait gallery.”

Marcus Gheeraerts, a painter who worked in the late 1500s in England, has a collection of portraits, which include so many pregnant women. People used to have portraits on these days and if a women was expecting to have a baby it was usual to have a portrait of her in case of her being death in childbirth. According to Januszczak “pregnancy was not only something to be celebrated, but also something to be feared.” In the achieves in Florence there was found a letter from Mrs. Arnolfini’s mother with the date of 1433, the year before this painting is dated. This letter mentioned that Mrs. Arnolfini had died.

The symbols in the painting support the fact of Mrs. Arnolfini being death. According to Margaret Koster, an art historian, the lady was death and the motifs on the chair and the mirror, and also the position of the candles support this. On the chair, there is St. Margaret, the patron saint of pregnant

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