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 The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434

Jan van Eyck: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This painting is one of my very favorites, and it is part of the collection at London’s National Gallery.  Yesterday I was able to see it for the first time in person.

I’m not sure why I find it so appealing.  I remember studying it in college as probably all intro to art history students do, and I loved it then.  Maybe it was the first time a painting ever resonated with me.  I loved the symbolism, the varied textures, the balanced composition, the incredible details, the cute little dog.  Maybe it looks so real, as if I can walk right into the painting and enter another time in history.  When I studied the painting in college, art historians believed it was a marriage portrait that contained a great deal of symbolism about marriage.  Recent scholarship raises more questions about that original interpretation.  The mysteries just make the painting more interesting.