Jan Van Eyck Wedding Portrait Analysis

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Jan Van Eyck began his career as an artist in 1422 and continued until his death in 1441. While Van Eyck was active, he created many well-known paintings. According to John Haber, Van Eyck was a portraitist who was the first to paint in oils (pg.1). One of his most famous works is Wedding Portrait, or Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride. This painting depicts a man and a woman holding hands in matrimony with many symbolic objects surrounding them. The painting was created in 1434 and currently resides at the National Gallery in London. Haber states that The Wedding Portrait, “confront us with a reconstruction rather than a mere representation of the visible world” (pg.1). Haber’s quote shows how that The Wedding Portrait has a complex meaning. …show more content…
Jan Van Eyck’s painting can best be understood by his use of elements, composition, and symbols. Jan Van Eyck uses local colors, neutral colors, and intensity to bring visual representation to Wedding Portrait. The local colors can be found in the bride’s green dress, her blue undershirt, and the red curtains. These objects have the colors you would “normally find” in similar objects. According to Exploring Art by Margaret Lazzari and Dona Schlesier, “Neutral colors are very low-intensity colors such as cream, tan, and beige” (28). This means the neutral colors in the painting are: the skin of Giovanni Arnolfini and his bride, and the light coming from the window. Wedding Portrait uses low-intensity color, because the painting uses darker colors that make the painting seem dull. Van Eyck uses value in the brides clothing, and shading under the couple’s feet. The value is that the brides dress is still the color green, but it is just a darker …show more content…
The obvious symbolism in the painting is the setting and the brides clothing. The first is the bedroom chambers, where the couple is standing in. The couple is joining marriage in a place where it will be consummated, suggesting the hope for many children (Lazzari & Schlesier 152). Another symbolic object is the way the woman is holding her clothing. This may suggest that she expects to be pregnant soon. There are many objects in the painting that hold a more complex meaning than what meets the eye. One of those objects is the chandelier that has only one candle burning. This is odd because the candle is burning in the daytime, so this may suggest a divine presence (Lazzari & Schlesier 152). The removal of their shoes by the couple can also be interpreted as having a symbolic meaning. The reason is because the couple removed their shoes implying that they are standing on holy ground. In the frame of the mirror appear medallions that depict the passion of the Christ (Lazzari & Schlesier 152-153). There is also a dog at the feet of the couple. This could be a symbol of fidelity. Giovanni Arnolfini is raising his hand as a gesture of blessing (Lazzari & Schlesier 153). This could mean that the painting has some religious importance. On the bedpost finial there is a

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