Hans Memling's The Arnolfini Portrait

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construe the general goal of the painter, which is to emphasise the sitter, but the brightness does confuse viewers at first sight. The inclusion of an interior space is groundbreaking itself (if we consider the Arnolfini Portrait (fig.2) as a kind of certificate rather than a portrait), but the depiction in Christus’s painting seems immature and the depth of the room defies common sense. As the figure seems too large for this narrow space, it could be inferred that the perspective may not accord with nature and that the background was added to the painting to suggest space.

Hans Memling, a German-born artist who was apprenticed under Rogier van der Weyden and then moved to Brussels after his master died, pushed chiaroscuro further for different reasons than those of Jan van Eyck.

Hans Memling was famous for his distinctive approach, for softening the contours of faces in order to
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As the setting in the Louvre version suggests, if figures adapt to the exterior condition of light, there should not be too much shadow, both on the edge of the Christ child’s body and on the grotto at the rear. However, the profuse illustration of both internal reflection and shadow on the Christ child body’s form indicates the opposite. As a result, only the flesh-forms close to the dark ground achieve a plasticity equal to that of the draperies. The London version, though criticised for its details, demonstrates Leonardo’s endeavours to improve chiaroscuro in the decade after he finished the Paris version. The strong contrast of highlights and full shadow on the Virgin’s face contribute much to its plasticity, and as the environment has been darkened, the group seems further detached from the background as if bathed in a spotlight. Named “grotto light”, this technique was more extensively used by Leonardo in

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