18th Century Netherlandish Schools Case Study

1260 Words 6 Pages
The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools: Beauty and skill over symbols and literal reality, case study of Arnolfini portrait, NG186

London’s National Gallery has a history of high-quality research on early Netherlandish paintings and Lorne Campbell’s catalogue is a fine addition. The progress in the technical investigation of paintings separates this volume from the earlier ones including infra-red reflectography, the study of medium samples, paint and of the original frames.The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools-catalogue contains 52 entries on paintings produced in the Burgundian Netherlands or by an artist trained there. This area covers roughly present-day Belgium, northern France, and the Netherlands that were under the political
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Panofsky’s interpretations rest on a basis of this idea concluding the portrait as a ‘pictorial marriage certificate’. According to him, the artist’s signature on the back wall transforms van Eyck to a witness of marriage ritual rather than only a painter as similarly flourished script is normally used for legal documents. Campbell corrects Panofsky by pointing out the used of elaborate and decorative inscriptions in various situations, not only in legal connotations. He also draws the attention to the another gentleman seen in the reflection of the mirror and the non-existing reference to this possible ‘second witness’. Panofsky proceeded to interpret various objects as symbols to justify his view the portrait as a sacred marriage certificate. If the painting had symbolic gestures they should have been well-rehearsed ritual gestures which had to be formally executed but Campbell argues strongly that the portrait was not conceived according to any carefully worked out programme. He supports this argument with the use of infrared reflectography which allows the underdrawings to be detected beneath the painted surface and reveal the changes which have been made and discover working process of the artist. Most of the details — the dog, the chandelier, the single lighted candle, the discarded shoes, the oranges, the beads, the image of Saint Margaret — turn out to be added on a later …show more content…
Campbell’s new discoveries are mostly due to new technical research. Dendrochronological analysis has, for instance, shown that the two painting panels are made from the same tree. This provides a strong indication that both panels were painted by the same artist or in the same workshop. Each entry has a flexible format allowing them to possess an internal coherence that improves the readability for both specialists and general audience. Rather than burdening the text with references while minimizing the repetition, Campbell assumes the reader will consult the entries relevant to one’s interests. The aim of the catalogue is to make the information given available and accessible, to present logical interpretations with needed evidence and offer detailed descriptions and photos revealing astonishing beauties and unusual pleasures. Neil MacGregor, director, emphasizes the hope that the catalogue could provide a sound basis for further research as the most important achievement which the catalogue can reach and lead to new

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