Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jan van Eyck

Giovanni & wife by Jan van Eyck 1434

This painting has fascinated me since I first saw it as a kid. I don't remember where I saw it, in a book or art appreciation slide show, but I immediately appreciated its uniqueness. It has been called a exercise in "disguised symbolism", and that must be true but is a aspect of the painting the I have not studied. I am intrigued by the detail: the fur on the dress, coat, & dog, each different in character; the placement of the objects, the wooden shoes, the fruit, the chandelier, the mirror; how the bed & the window "frame" the couple; the couple center stage with their reflection in the convex mirror. And van Eyck's signature claiming he was there!

Yes, I saw it at the National Gallery in London. There was a crowd around it, and surprise, surprise, it is bigger than I expected; I had in mind that it was practically a miniature but it is closer to 24"x36". I would love the opportunity to see this painting over and over again. I would never tire of it. Like revisiting and old friend.

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