HUM111 Strayer Van Eyck and Northern Renaissance Art Discussion

“Van Eyck and Analyzing Art in the Northern Renaissance” Please respond to the following, using sources under the Explore heading as the basis of your response:

  • Explain whether you agree with the interpretation of either Sayre or Koster of Van Eyck’s Arnolfini double portrait, identifying the most persuasive part of that interpretation. Describe two (2) symbolic elements of the painting and any other features that stand out to you. Pretend you are having a portrait done of you and a significant other; describe at least four (4) symbolic elements that you might include in the painting, and explain why.


Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait


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“Van Eyck and Analyzing Art in the Northern Renaissance” Please WATCH this video BEFORE starting the Week 8 Discussion.…

Please respond to the discussion questions, using sources under the Explore heading as the basis of your response:


Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait

Discussion (please include greeting and questions in your post)

Hello wonderful classmates and Dr. C here is my main post for the Week 8 Discussion “Van Eyck and Analyzing Art in the Northern Renaissance”

1) My interpretation of the Arnolfini painting agrees with . . .

  • Agree with Henry Sayre (the author of our textbook) that the portrait represents a wedding ceremony

Jan van Eyck’s painting, Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami, from 1434, is often used as a prototype example for iconographic analysis, and the conflicts that arise within it. As a painter, Van Eyck was revered for his incredible ability to mimic realism and the effects of light. The painting’s many symbols, some of Christian origin, have been a source of some debate. It was widely accepted as a painting representing a marriage, but recent controversy suggests it is more a record of engagement than a wedding portrait. In van Eyck’s time, a woman laying her hands in the palm of a male, as she so conspicuously does in the painting, was understood to be an agreement to wed (Sayre) Above the mirror in the center of the background are the words “Jan van Eyck has been here, 1434.” To contemporary ears this almost sounds like a bit of playful graffiti, but it also clearly establishes the painter as a witness to the event being painted (Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait

  • Henry Sayre’s interpretation found in Chapter 16 & Figs. 16.7-16.8)
  • Agree with Margret Koster that the portrait represents an engagement/betrothal ceremony -The theory that the portrait is a memorial to Arnolofini’s dead wife:
  • Currently however, there is some speculation that it is, instead, a commemorative portrait. Margaret Koster puts forth arguments for this in an article in the Apollo. Click hereto read it.) No one knows for sure who the couple is but the best guess is that it is Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini a merchant from Bruges and his bride Costanza Trenta who he married in 1426. By the time this portrait was painted however, in 1434, Constanza had died. What’s more, the couple was childless which jives nicely with the idea of some scholars that Constanza may have died in childbirth. So the idea that this is a commemoration of Constanza seems to be valid. One thing’s for sure, there’s waaaaayyyy too much going on for it to be just a Double Portrait as a few other scholars have suggested. For more reading Margaret Koster’s interpretation at…

Be VERY clear which interpretation you believe,

I agree with ____________ Here’s why . . .

(Discuss in some detail WHY you made the interpretation you did, this should be at least 3 or 4 sentences and assess which parts of the painting suggest your interpretation)

2) Symbolism I see in the ‘Arnolfini Portrait’

There is a lot to discuss here, please at least three symbolic elements and then discuss what the symbolism is….

3) Symbolic elements I would put in my own ‘me and my significant other portrait’

Please come up with at least four items and then EXPLAIN why they are symbolic for you

Please no attachments in the discussion area: Students using phones or tablets cannot open, read, or comment on your post. Also please avoid forbidden websites and please avoid too much copy and paste content.

4) Please reply to a least one classmate.

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