Talk:Arnolfini Portrait

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The information in this article lists the size as 82.2 x 60 centimeters. However, my copy of Janson's History of Art lists the size as 83.7 x 57 centimeters. Can anyone verify either of these two sizes or even have completely different measurements. If nobody responds, I will go to the National Gallery for information. --Sophitus 11:30, May 15, 2005 (UTC)

I have checked the National Gallery's website and it confirms the size as 82.2 x 60 centimeters. And because they actually own the painting, obviously my Janson is wrong. --Sophitus 20:44, May 15, 2005 (UTC)

actually it is probably giving board size, not the image size - I have now added both (slightly different figures) per the NG to the template Johnbod 00:37, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Arnolfini Wedding[edit]

A substub by troll User:Haydes. It seems to be about a painting, and I'm listing it here because I'm unsure whether this deserves an article of its own. Maybe merge and redirect to Jan van Eyck? jni 13:41, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

  • Keep, it was a requested article, and it's a famous painting, so it really should be on cleanup or something, not here. Adam Bishop 16:46, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Clean up and expand - It was a requested article after all... ClockworkTroll 17:29, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep and list on cleanup, but make sure that Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami are redirects, and not the substubs that Haydes wants to keep them as. RickK 19:50, Oct 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep valid topic. [[User:Davodd|DAVODD «TALK»]] 23:59, Oct 4, 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep. Joyous 01:23, Oct 5, 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep, clean up and expand this stub by the Renaissance Painting Bandit. Antandrus 01:30, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • There, I tried to make it a bit more respectable. 01:48, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
      • That is much better than the original that looked like a typical troll pile to me. After some reading, I concur this is a valid topic and therefore change my initial vote to keep. If there is a process for de-listing items from VFD before lag time runs out, I support doing that and listing this article on cleanup instead. I like RickK's suggestion and hope others will help keep any further Haydes' substubs at bay. jni 08:10, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
        • Now Anthony DiPierro has taken it upon himself to revert the redirection and make the substubs on the husband and wife in the painting into non-notable stubs and doesn't even bother to put a stub notice on the pages. If the two articles about the people are not kept as redirects, I intend to list THEM on VfD. RickK 22:53, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)
          • I only did it with the article on Arnolfini, which is more interesting than the article on the portrait. Go ahead and list it on VfD. No one will support you, because the Arnolfini page is perfectly fine. anthony (see warning) 02:11, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
            • Now that you've made it more than a two sentence substub, I guess it's worth keeping, though he isn't really notable. RickK 21:55, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)
              • It's worth keeping, but he's not notable? That's contradictory. anthony (see warning) 22:01, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep. I added the pic (already existed at Jan van Eyck and somehow not added already). Remarkable how the existence of a pic makes me immediately think an article is not ripe for deletion. Tempshill 20:35, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep and expand. I recall reading something about how this painting served as a sort of painted marriage certificate, which is interesting—I'll see if I can dig up that article. —No-One Jones (m) 22:27, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)
    • That would be a very useful addition. RickK 22:49, Oct 6, 2004 (UTC)
      • The description of that is in the reference I've added to the Arnolfini biography. "Panofsky didn't just see this painting as a portrait of a married couple. He saw it as a marriage certificate." anthony (see warning) 21:58, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep. This is a no brainer. Incredibly notable. Gamaliel 08:46, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep, of course. — Bill 17:49, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)

What in the world does "most unique" mean?

I believe it refers to the fact that this painting is unusual, practically alone in western art history, with regard to its themes, symbols, design, and complexity. --Sophitus 05:09, August 1, 2005 (UTC)

"Most unique" makes no sense; something is unique or it is not. Such nonsensical overstatement leads a reader to wonder if the writer knows what he is talking about.

Identity of the subjects[edit]

I was initially reverting the edits by User:, changing the name of the subject from Giovani Arnolfini to Michele Arnolfini, as unexplained possible vandalism, but now that I have read around a little I see that there is plenty of uncertainty over the identity of the subjects of the painting.

Conventionally the sitters are identified as Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini and his bride Giovanna Cenami. This is largely based on the 1934 analysis by Erwin Panofsky which is often taken as the definitive interpretation. Panofsky in turn, was basing his analysis on a couple of 16th century documents that mention the picture, that may have been mistaken. There is evidence that this can't be Giovani Arnolfini, for example a document indicating that Giovanni was married 14 years after this painting. Others have argued that the apparent age of Giovanni shown in the portrait doesn't match the age he would have been at the time. Still others suggest Jan van Eyck actually painted the picture sometime long after the 1434 date painted on the wall.

Certainly one of the other candidates for the sitters would be Michele Arnolfini and his wife Elizabeth, but I don't think this is universally accepted. The linked Austrian reference [1] given by User: appears to state that the couple is Michele & Elizabeth without much qualification. My German isn't stong enough to read that article well, but it appears to start with a discussion about the common standards of marriage in the middle ages, rather than being an analysis of this particular painting, and I can't see that web site has any special credibility.

I suggest we leave the names of the sitters as the conventional Giovanni & Giovanna, but include a paragraph explaining how they are probably misidentified and giving some of the alternatives. -- Solipsist 06:14, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

- You need to see the National Gallery catalogue: The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings by Lorne Cambell, 1998. Ms Cenami is out (she married G di A in 1447); it is G di A's cousin Giovanni di Nicolao plus an undocumented second wife who are shown. I think this version has to be given priority, as it is their painting. Johnbod 15:49, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Identity of Margaret of Austria[edit]

From the text: "In their book published in 1857, Crowe and Cavalcaselle were the first to link the double portrait with the early 16th century inventories of Margaret of Austria." Which Margaret of Austria might this be?Risssa (talk) 03:37, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Citing a book[edit]

I'm new here. How do I cite the book "The Arnolfini Betrothal: Medieval Marriage and the Enigma of Van Eyck's Double Portrait"? The part about art historian Edwin Hall is from this book. Cmyk 07:01, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

That's a question I've been meaning to look in to for a while. In the old days (about 6 months ago) we would have just put a reference to the book at the end of the article. But now I am increasingly seeing the {{ref}} and {{note}} templates being used to mark a particular comment. You can find instructions for using them at Template talk:Ref.
Basically it looks like you make up a footnote reference, like 'Hall01', then add {{ref|Hall01}} at the right point in the body text. Then add a Notes section with a list of reverse links back to the ref marker along with the specific page reference, {{note|Hall01}} Edwin Hall, p. 55.
When listing a book reference, its a good idea to inlcude the ISBN number which will automagically be turned in to a link to a page of sources for the book - e.g. ISBN 0520212215
There are some good examples of using them, as well as the formatting for book references in the Dmitri Shostakovich article and several others in the list of Featured Articles. -- Solipsist 07:57, 30 November 2005 (UTC)


"Unique" does not take a modifier. It means "one of a kind," so something is either unique or it isn't: it can't be "very" unique. I changed the word in the article to "original," which seemed closest to what the author of the post meant.

Ursatz 11:58, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Symbolism sources[edit]

It looks like many of the claims made in the "Symbolism" section of this article are from Panofsky's essay. I don't know if that was the intention, but you could probably cite that as a source for a lot of them, especially the more controversial ones. Billy Shears 22:17, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Page name[edit]

I've decapitalized the name. In fact I think the article should be at Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, which is now a redirect. Objections? Piet 09:26, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Probably not the best idea. As far as I know there is no known original title for this painting. 'Portrait of Giovanni(?) Arnolfini and his Wife' is the title the National Gallery (London) gives it, so might be considered official, but there is quite a range of alternative titles (we ought to include 'The Arnolfini Wedding' in the description). However the most popular common name appears to be just 'The Arnolfini Portrait' (with a capital P). Wikipedia's naming conventions are to use the most common name in English. Indeed this is already how the article is most commonly linked internally, so we should move the page back to where it was. -- Solipsist 16:33, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Why do you assume The Arnolfini Portrait is the most common name? I don't like it, it seems very informal and it does not feel like a proper name. But if there's reason to believe it's the most common name you can move it back. Piet 18:31, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
A combination of Google stats and the fact that most of the in-article internal links are for The Arnolfini Portrait (there is one for The Arnolfini Wedding and one for Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife). Wikipedia's naming policies are about trying to ensure that editors will guess the correct link without having to disambiguate. Few people are going to correctly link Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. -- Solipsist 20:31, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, the internal links pointed to where the page was of course, to avoid redirects. That's no argument. And google stats are no good either, since "the arnolini portrait" can be used in a sentence where it might not be meant as the name. I'm willing to follow you based on your last point. But I still don't think "The Arnolifini Portrait" is the actual name of the painting. If it's not the name, we should follow the standard article naming guidelines and drop "The" and decapitalize "Portrait", so Arnolifini portrait. I'm sure Mona Lisa is not at The Mona Lisa allthough people might call it that.
But anyway, I'm not going to push this.
-- Piet 07:29, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
No its not just because that's where the page was (although you are supposed to dab and update links when you move a page - hint :) ). When I check a 'What links here' I also check to see what text is associated with each link. If most of them have already been dab'ed that tells you that many editors are trying to use a different title. In this case, the text was typically a straight link on 'The Arnolifini Portrait'.
However, I would agree with you in that I'm not so comfortable with including the preposition as part of the title. As you say it can go either way. An easier check is just to look at Category:Renaissance_paintings. Again in this case it seems to be quite common to include the preposition in the title, but it is the sort of thing we could do with a wider policy on (there would be a better place to decide that than here - maybe it has already been discussed).
It is also commonly the case that Renaissance paintings (and many others) don't really have an official title. Unless a title was written on the painting (unusual), or unless a painting has a particularly well documented provenance which records a title in a contemporary document, the accepted title for a painting tends to be much more recent and may relate to the obvious subject, a famous owner or the name used by a gallery (even then there are often variations due to translation issues). The titles are mostly just 'handles' that art historians use to be sure they are all talking about the same painting. In this case I think the common title comes from Panofsky's 1934 article. It is quite likely that nobody had paid much attention to this painting before then.
However, I'm no expert on these things, so would happily be corrected. -- Solipsist 08:25, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Whether we're supposed to update all links when moving a page stands to discussion. Updating a page creates more work for the servers than having the server process the redirects. Eliminating double redirects is more important.
After all that's been said, I still think the page should be at Arnolfini portrait or even Arnolfini (portrait) or Arnolfini (painting) but I'll leave the decision to you. But don't leave it where it is, I shouldn't have decapitalized without removing "The". If we use "The", it's a name and Painting should be capitalized. Piet 08:43, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Solipsist; any search for an "actual name" is going to be futile. The title of this article is necessarily going to be an art-historical construct. That said, I don't think Arnolfini portrait (decapitalised p) is ideal. It suggests that "Arnolfini" is a particular type of portrait, just as Fresco painting is a particular technique of painting or Relief sculpture is a particular kind of sculpture. And I'm afraid Arnolfini (portrait) or Arnolfini (painting) only make that false suggestion stronger.
There's a convention on Wikipedia for artworks whose popular titles follow the formula "adjective (from the name of the patron/most famous owner/location) – noun" to capitalise both words: Borghese Gladiator, Elgin Marbles, Ghent Altarpiece, Harbaville Tryptych, Mond Crucifixion, Portland Vase. I think the same convention is applicable to Arnolfini Portrait. [talk to the] HAM 20:17, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Ham - though I think the most common name in the UK is "The Arnolfini Wedding", as started by Panofsky. The NG used to call it "The Arnolfini Marriage" (Potterton 1971) or Levey (ex-Director, "The NG Collection", 1987):"The Marriage of Giovanni Arnolfini" & their current Languir guide 1997 subtitles it " The Arnolfini Portrait". The Article should be as it is, but "Arnolfini Portrait" for the reasons given above.

Johnbod 20:39, 29 November 2006 (UTC)


the paragraph:

"...allowed the forms to be projected onto the surface of the painting, leaving the painter to simply match and fill in the colors. That technique migrated gradually to Italy and most of Europe and may be the reason for the photographic style of painting we see in the northern Renaissance and other periods of art. Eventually this phenomenon led to the invention of photography."

seems to contradict the staments made on the entry about perspective(graphic). There it is stated that the italians started this "mirror technique". That article even mentions perpective mistakes made on Arnolfini portrait.

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was Page moved, per discussion below. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:58, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Add "* Support" or "* Oppose" followed by a brief explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~

  • Support - i've commented previously aboveJohnbod 00:11, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Support, between those two choices. May not be the best choice. This appears to have at some time before moves made the edit history list to have been moved from the Arnolfini Wedding name it existed under at the time of the deletion debate. Why was it moved from that? Gene Nygaard 06:07, 12 December 2006 (UTC)


Some of the history is found in Arnolfini Wedding:

  • 25 April 2006 Kevpkenny (Talk | contribs) (moved Arnolfini Wedding to Giovonni Arnolfini and His Bride: Name of painting in Gardner's Art History Book, a reliable source for the title)

and some of the history is found in Giovonni Arnolfini and His Bride:

  • 17 November 2004 Olivier (Arnolfini Wedding moved to The Arnolfini Portrait)
  • 25 April 2006 Kevpkenny m (moved Arnolfini Wedding to Giovonni Arnolfini and His Bride: Name of painting in Gardner's Art History Book, a reliable source for the title)

history of The Arnolfini Portrait:

  • 20 August 2006 Pietdesomere (Talk | contribs) (moved The Arnolfini Portrait to The Arnolfini portrait:

history of The Arnolfini portrait

  • 30 August 2006 Pietdesomere (moved The Arnolfini portrait to Arnolfini portrait: De-article)

but it doesn't all add up, probably involving some cut and paste moves. Gene Nygaard 06:23, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

You're right, the decision to change the title from "Wedding" does appear to have been a pretty arbitrary one. Regarding the merits of "Wedding" versus "Portrait", I don't feel strongly on the matter – although I can't emphasise enough that there is no such thing as an "approved" title for works like this. However, since the matter probably won't be settled until we have decided on which is in most common usage, I made the following searches on Google, Google Book Search and Google Scholar:
  • "Arnolfini Portrait" Google: 18,100; Book Search: 472; Scholar: 170
  • "Arnolfini Marriage" Google: 13,000; Book Search: 92; Scholar: 81
  • "Arnolfini Wedding" (not counting instances of "Arnolfini Wedding Portrait") Google 834; Book Search: 49; Scholar: 65
  • "Arnolfini Wedding Portrait" Google: 628; Book Search: 31; Scholar: 28
  • "Arnolfini Double Portrait" Google: 955; Book Search: 33; Scholar: 31
  • "Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride" Google: 306; Book Search: 44; Scholar: 10
Thus the current nomenclature, and not "Wedding", appears to be the most commonly used. (I was surprised by this as well; I thought I'd seen "Wedding" more often.) [talk to the] HAM 18:02, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Quibbling about "most common" in choosing between common usages is nonsense. Just go with stability, as long as it is a reasonable choice. "Most common" is not a well-defined term. Gene Nygaard 23:18, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Hmm, I've missed the discussion because the page was not on my watchlist anymore since the last move. I'm not going to reopen the debate, but I have to say I'm very surprised nobody mentioned the official guideline Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Lowercase second and subsequent words in titles, which was the main rationale for putting the page where it was. Piet | Talk 18:36, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

No, you contributed to the debate on August 22 Johnbod 19:16, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
I wasn't aware of that guideline, which oddly seems to be breached more than it is observed, at least where pages on artworks are concerned. Besides the examples I listed in my rationale above, we also have Doni Tondo, Medici Vase, Portinari Triptych etc. etc. If the norm is for art articles to flout this policy, should we perhaps be reconsidering it? [talk to the] HAM 11:44, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
It's not breached more than it is observed, the examples are all works of art. In general, pages will follow the guideline. So it should not be reconsidered, but maybe an exception could be formulated that covers the cases named here. Piet | Talk 12:56, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Year 1434 ?[edit]

How the painter knew about this A.D. chronology, which was created more that hundred years later? Michael Levin —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:25, 25 December 2006 (UTC).

Easy - no it wasn't! See Anno domini Johnbod 08:25, 25 December 2006 (UTC)

Interpretation and symbolism[edit]

Items in this section are listed as if they are all fact. Surely some of these are fairly well-established interpretations of art of the period, others unsupported speculation? Some documented comment on the reliability of the different interpretations is required, by someone more knowledgeable than me. Pol098 21:36, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I think, as mentioned above somewhere, all or most come from Panofsky. I think all would have some support from some art historians, though views on the extent to which they were intended by the artist as symbols etc would vary. Johnbod 15:02, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Rating on assessment scale[edit]

This article is unrated on the assessment scale. It seems to me that this is a pretty good article - at least a 'B' rating? What do others think? -GTBacchus(talk) 00:32, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

No argument from me, but i'm biased. Someone does need to reference the symbolism bits to Panofsky (mostly, it seems). Johnbod 03:28, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup Needed[edit]

This article can stand to be cleaned up more. The second image on the page has no caption, so I have no idea what is being looked at (or for) in the close up of the wife's sleeve. Also, there needs to be a consistent footnote style used because it gives it a bad appearence and doesn't inform the reader that some of the footnotes are links to other articles (which should be footnoted anyway, if not done son directly). (talk to)SailorAlphaCentauri 15:59, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Ok, though on the first point you could always try reading the text next to the image (anathema to many a WP editor I know) Johnbod 16:09, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Pregnant... NOT![edit]

As an art historian, I find this a very good article. And my following remark is certainly not a quibble, but rather a thought told aloud.

The author says: "The wife <...> holds herself in a way as if she is pregnant, as she is erroneously often assumed to be by viewers".

Indeed. And we (= art history graduates/undergraduates) have been told since day one that she is NOT.

But does her actual state really matter? Is it really a case of MODERN (mis)reading of 1430s fashion (as usually the argument goes)? I don't think so.

Isn't it more plausible that van Eyck himself deliberately set her up in a pose suggesting pregnancy (I am willing to bet that it suggested pregnancy to contemporary viewers as well - or we would see many more works of the era depicting such a peculiar pose)), to weave into the portrait some vital piece of information that was certainly known to those who commissioned the painting? Add the supposed depiction of the patron saint of childbirth and - voila!

So, the "naive" reading, typical of art history freshmen (and "lay" people), might be spot-on after all... once again. ;)

You might be right, but in the absence of any published WP:RS to that effect (that I'm aware of), to say so in the article would be WP:OR. Johnbod 11:20, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Anyone with eyes in his or her head can look at that portrait and see that the woman is supposed to be pregnant. It's a portrait of a young married couple expecting their first child. There is such a thing as too much interpretation. Sometimes it IS what it looks like. --Bookworm857158367 (talk) 00:29, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
And sometimes the apparently obvious can be interpreted in various ways. Here's what the National Gallery of London maintains: [2]. JNW (talk) 00:37, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
Of course it can be interpreted various ways; by its very nature it is ambiguous. She is holding her heavy dress up and in front of her belly, which could conceivably conceal a pregnancy but at the same time there could be nothing special to conceal! It's really up to the imagination, since her stomach is entirely shrouded. Speaking with absolute certainty on this issue is nonsensical.--Pericles of AthensTalk 01:31, 8 July 2010 (UTC)


I have reverted an edit that removes various wikilinks, and reinstates verious deleted bits that were unreferenced, not very well expressed, and seem unlikely to be accurate to me. For example, it is not at all clear that Mrs A is not dressed for going out & that Mr A is. What is the evidence for this: "Behind the pair, the curtains of the marriage bed have been opened, depicting that the couple have been visited and blessed by the Trinity." - where depicting would be the wrong word anyway. And so on.... Johnbod (talk) 15:35, 12 April 2008 (UTC)



Where does this bit about cherries come from? I can't see any in the picture; is the picture perhaps cropped? Nyttend (talk) 15:28, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

No of course not. They are a bit clearer here, but perfectly clear in the original. Johnbod (talk) 15:44, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

Not «The Arnolfini Portrait» but «The Van Eyck Wedding» - News about a Critical Essay, proposing the painting is a self-portrait of the painter with his spouse Margaretha[edit]

On the paternity of this work and on the date there is no doubt, since we can see the signature, but there is no certainty of the two people represented. Crowe and Cavalcaselle in 1857 set the painting in relation to the inventory of the paintings owned by Margherita of Austria in 1516 were the following words were written “Ung grant tableau qu’on appelle Hernoul le Fin, avec sa femme dedens une chambre” Hernol le Fin was interpreted as a common form of the surname Arnolfini, and since then the depicted couple were identified as Giovanni Arnolfini, a rich merchant living in Bruges, advisor of the Duke of Burgundy and his wife Giovanna Cenami.

Since 1847 the director of the National Gallery had timidly proposed that the painting may have represented Jan and Margaretha Van Eyck, but the most acclaimed art critics, like Ruskin and De Labourde were absolutely convinced of the Arnolfini thesis until 1934, when Panofsky closed the question by affirming that this was the truth since the painter married in 1433 and not in 1434.

Marco Paoli returns on this question, confirming that there are no documents that put Van Eyck in relation to the Arnolfini family. In this situation there is no reference, even indirect, in the family tree of the supposed commissioners, nor to their land and their original cultural level; the couple also have no resemblance to the Mediterranean physical aspect. In conclusion, there is no other reason for the attribution except the fact that there is an assonance between Hernol le Fin and Arnolfini. *Not «The Arnolfini Portrait» but «The Van Eyck Wedding» —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:11, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Married or Engaged?[edit]

Today we discussed this painting in my European history class and my teacher said they weren't getting married but actually engaging at this moment. Any thoughts or comments on this?-- And Rew 01:15, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

The Mirror part II[edit]

When I look at that miiror, I see 3 people, the backs of the two subjects, and the painter himself, dressed in blue and black, holding a blue pallet, with a blue hat, with a light source above his head. Hench the inscription "Jan van Eyck was here". I think Jan had a sence of humour. I also believe the woman is pregnant. The wedding rings on her fingers don't fit anymore, so they are pushed up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

The many-armed chandelier[edit]

I just edited one of the bullet points, which contained a pair of errors dating from, I believe, 2005. The chandelier has six arms, not seven, and moreover the lit candle is actually in the front, not the rear. As an anonymous editor, I know I should cite evidence supporting the six-armed "theory", but honestly the full-sized image of the painting available here on Wikipedia is proof in and of itself. I did find an outside source that focused on the chandelier, and it too counts six arms: I don't have a copy of the Panofsky text, but it's possible the mistake is in there, too. If Panofsky counted seven arms, as the pre-edit citation seemed to imply, then perhaps a parenthetical remark regarding that fact should be added. I wouldn't blame him, by the way; the overlapping arcs (and in particular the splashes of light on them) play tricks on the eyes. (talk) 06:13, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Campbell, p. 187, also says 6-armed. I suppose the other argument is that one is hidden behind the central thingy, but that doesn't look right. Johnbod (talk) 12:34, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
I also have to believe that seven-armed chandeliers are far less common than the hexagonal variety, if only for ease of geometrical construction. So with six visible arms, it's a bad idea to presume a hidden seventh. (talk) 08:06, 31 July 2011 (UTC)


I was bold and made changes to the referencing style without seeking consensus here - and I apologies. This article cites a small number of articles multiple times. I think that the article would be improved if all the sources were grouped together in the Sources section at the bottom of the article. At the moment only Harbison is included. I created an expanded list of sources from the cited articles - adding a couple of jstor numbers and corrected errors:

  • Bedaux, Jan Baptist (1986), "The reality of symbols: the question of disguised symbolism in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini portrait", Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, 16 (1): 5–28, JSTOR 3780611 .
  • Campbell, Lorne (1998), The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings, London: National Gallery, ISBN 1-85709-171-X .
  • Harbison, Craig (1990), "Sexuality and social standing in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini double portrait", Renaissance Quarterly, 43 (2, Summer 1990): 249–291, JSTOR 2862365 .
  • Panofsky, Erwin (1970), "Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini portrait", in Creighton, Gilbert, Renaissance Art, New York: Harper and Row, pp. 1–20 .

I've used a template - which I find convenient - but I know other editors dislike them - and I can achieve the same result without templates. Would the major contributors to this article be happy for me to add back the above references to the Sources section? And if so, would you prefer that I didn't use templates? Aa77zz (talk) 20:41, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Its not the grouping, its the template. Its not liked by some for many reasons, mostly because it sometimes renderes inconsistently and its mark up makes editing hell, even for thoes of us who remember html. There are other reasons. Formatting by hand is so much cleaner and easier, imo anyway. Ceoil (talk) 20:48, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
In other words, knock yourself out, but dont use the template. Ceoil (talk) 20:49, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes please - changes welcome, but not templates (in references either), here's one - please use this style:
  • Campbell, Lorne, The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings, National Gallery Catalogues (new series), 1998, ISBN 185709171

Thanks, Johnbod (talk) 21:03, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Twenty two[edit]

In the "Interpretation and symbolism" section is the text:

Panofsky interprets the gesture as an act of fides, Latin for "marital oath."[22]

where the "[22]" is present as a number and doesn’t link to a footnote. This can occur when an editor copies text from another article – on Wikipedia or elsewhere. The text was added as part of a large addition by an anonymous IP on 14 Dec 2009. I’ve googled to look for a source but found nothing. Aa77zz (talk) 10:03, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I see what you mean. This appears to be virtually the only edit by this editor, and draws on a number of different sources, & is carefully interwoven with the pre-exising text, so I don't think it looks like your average cut n'paste. I suspect "22" may be a reference to a Panofsky page number (or note number) - the next proper ref is to Panofsky p. 8. I'll see if I can establish this. Anyone else have access to that book? Johnbod (talk) 17:19, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

"van Eyck" or "Van Eyck"[edit]

When the artist's name is specified without "Jan", some publications capitalize the "v" of "van Eyck" while others do not. Bedaux 1986, Carrol 1993, Harbison 1990, Panofsky 1934 and Campbell 1998 all use "van Eyck" whereas Colenbrander 2005 and Hall 1997 use "Van Eyck". In the article there were five occurrences of "van" and five of "Van". I have no strong preference but for consistency I've changed all instances of "Van Eyck" to "van Eyck". According to the wikipedia page on Dutch names the current practice in the Netherlands is to use a capital letter. The choice has been discussed in the past on the van Gogh talk page. The Vincent van Gogh article currently uses a lower case "v". Aa77zz (talk) 11:16, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

You could go either way. It's an internaly consistent thing; wiki tends towards a lower case v unless at the start of a sentence. Notice its also lower case for van der Weyden. Ceoil (talk) 11:24, 3 December 2011 (UTC)
The lower case "v" in van was a sign of nobility in the Middle Ages and continues to be used as such today in the Netherlands and Germany. The artist signed his name as "de Eyck." The use of "de" (be it the French de or the Dutch de) indicated that Jan (or Johannes, more properly) was from a noble family. This is supported by the now-lost epitaph, included in Dhanen's "Hubert and Jan van Eyck," which mentioned van Eyck's lineage. Dawn of Art (talk) 17:25, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
And, more importantly for the usage here, in Belgium, the land he lived in. His employment by Phillip the Bold in an Ambassadorial role and his relationship with the Papacy would also have entitled him to the usage. In every case, the American style of capitalising the name as a Patronymic is definitively wrong, it's a composite toponym meaning "of". One would no more write Joan Of Arc, for example, his exact contemporary.

Maximiliaan Martens[edit]

Near the end of the "Scholarly debate" section the article mentions a proposal made by Maximiliaan Martens. Does anybody know where this comes from? I would like to add a citation. Aa77zz (talk) 17:37, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

"utterly convincing depiction of a room"[edit]

The lead ends with the quote "its utterly convincing depiction of a room, as well of the people who inhabit it". Although I like the idea of having a a quote at the end of the lead, I have a problem with this particular quote as the perspective in the room is clearly wrong. This is discussed by Campbell on page 202 – and on page 191 he writes "The absence of a fireplace is disturbing; the chandelier cannot fit in the space it seems to occupy; the bed looks too short; and the mirror may be impossibly large and is unlikely to be a depiction of a real mirror." Has anyone a better suggestion for the end of the lead? Aa77zz (talk) 17:38, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Well spotted. There is such a large body of litrature for this work that I'm sure a few minutes on google books will provide a suitable accolate easy enough. Will have a look. I aslo like ending leads with a quote. It gives punch and weight. Ceoil (talk) 22:56, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the point made in the NGA publication from 1991 was not intended to refer to perspective and proportions, but, and I'll quote directly, to "the creation of illusion through his unifying depiction of light....The depictions of an interior of a room with a bed ....was also of interest to van Eyck's Italian contemporaries....but neither [Lippi nor di Paolo] displays van Eyck's ability to use it for the definition and evocation of space." An art historian may be correct to find faults with the geometric structure of the space, but that doesn't invalidate the sense of spacial illusion through other means, which is a big part of why the picture continues to enthrall. If there's still a problem with the existing quote, here is another possibility for a finish to the lead: Van Eyck's achievement "lay not so much in the rendering of isolated special effects, but rather in the creation of illusion through his unifying depiction of light." JNW (talk) 02:07, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Most of the more recent scholarship tends to praise the treatment of the various objects as pasages of high accomplishment in and of them self, while, as Aa77zz points out, noting that the unified whole has problems. Perspective was still very young at this early point, and I dont think it was what he was trying to get at. I think he was trying to dazzel with glaze etc, and preoccupied with the minute details he was now able to present to with such glorious fineness. Ceoil (talk) 02:20, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
The essay from Dunkerton et al states that "Although today we are struck by the exquisite painting of such details as the light catching the solid brass of the chandelier and emphasising the rotundity of the oranges, we tend to take for granted van Eyck's revolutionary achievement. This lay not...."(continued above). So yes, perspective probably wasn't the main tool here, but there's an important point re: the whole being greater than the sum of its well painted parts, and that does depend upon consistency of light and shadow as an overarching mechanism. And it's an observation that binds together the separate passages of the picture. JNW (talk) 02:49, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the parts are greater than the sum, to be honest, and what really works for me are the inscriptions and the veil. But youve given food for thought, thanks for that. Ceoil (talk) 03:25, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
The parts are unreal. But I wonder if this wasn't one of the great discoveries of early Flemish art, and specifically of van Eyck: the construction of believable interiors with figures. It was this understanding of light that not only modeled palpable forms (the oranges, the drapery), but also gave the entire room coherence and established what we think of as a modern conception of depth. I think it's a type of realism that didn't show up in Italian art for some years, and it led, eventually and more subtly, to Velazquez. JNW (talk) 03:49, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

File:Van Eyck - Arnolfini Portrait.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Van Eyck - Arnolfini Portrait.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on May 24, 2012. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2012-05-24. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page so Wikipedia doesn't look bad. :) Thanks! howcheng {chat} 16:51, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Arnolfini Portrait
The Arnolfini Portrait is an oil painting on oak panel dated 1434 by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. This painting is believed to be a portrait of the Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, presumably in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges. It is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art history. The illusionism of the painting was remarkable for its time, in part for the rendering of detail, but particularly for the use of light to evoke space in an interior.
Looks ok to me. Johnbod (talk) 16:57, 21 May 2012 (UTC)


"The placement of the two figures suggests conventional 15th century views of marriage and gender roles – the woman stands near the bed and well into the room, symbolic of her role as the caretaker of the house, whereas Giovanni stands near the open window, symbolic of his role in the outside world."

This is the sort of thing that drives me barmy. Are there no reliable sources who've suggested the obvious alternative interpretation: that the fact that the man is on the left and the woman on the right symbolises that when the artist said "go stand over there so I can paint you", that's the order in which they happened to stand?

I bet that if they'd been painted the other way around, the author would have said that it symbolises the man's role as the master of the house and the woman stands on the left because left = inferior (as in sinister v dexter). -- (talk) 07:18, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Actually, the more you think about it, the more amusing it is. "Signor and signora, would you mind swapping places? I need to paint you so that you are the breadwinner and she is the caretaker of the house. Now, if you wouldn't mind holding each other's hand. No, signor, the right hand. No, signor, her right hand, hold it with your left hand." "Mamma mia, what does it matter?" "How else are 21st century arts graduates going to know that she isn't good enough for you, signor?" -- (talk) 07:26, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

It is considered[edit]

The statement that you have

It is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art

clearly and specifically violates WP:WEASEL.

Among other things, it's unattributed to any WP:RS. Every statement in Wikipedia has to be sourced to a WP:RS.

If Gombrich says it, quote Gombrich. But Wikipedia doesn't make judgments about whether a work of art is considered original or complex. That's WP:OR. WP:RS is a fundamental Wikipedia guideline. You can't make unattributed statements like that in Wikipedia.

Having taken courses in art criticism, and published articles in fancy art publications, in my uni days, I personally think that it's meaningless to call a work of art "one of the most original" or "complex", as in this snippit from Gombrich. Was there ever an era of Western art that didn't have an original painting? There are lots of paintings that are just as complex. Jackson Pollack was original and complex.

But that's just my personal opinion, and for Wikipedia purposes without a WP:RS it doesn't doesn't count for anything, just as your personal opinion that it is original and complex doesn't count for anything, without being attributed to a WP:RS. Please attribute it. --Nbauman (talk) 23:40, 28 September 2012 (UTC)

You seem to have a bee in your bonnet about this. The statement (not AFAIK added by me) reflects the consensus of art historians. Which specific painting of Pollock's (let's try to spell him correctly) is mentioned in every chronological history of Western art? None of them. You say: "Was there ever an era of Western art that didn't have an original painting?" - well probably not, but how does this relate to the statement in the article? If you ask "Was there ever an era of Western art that didn't produce 'one of the most original paintings in Western art'?" then the answer is emphatically yes, there were plenty! Likewise with "Jackson Pollack [sic] was original and complex" - yes, so what? As for "There are lots of paintings that are just as complex" - well it depends what "lots" means, but I think I would disagree. Certainly there are only a very very few paintings whose complexities have been written about at such length by so many art historians as the Arnolfini Portrait, and none of them are by Pollock. It is no coincidence, btw, that there are specific relationships (covered in that article) between one of that very small group, Las Meninas, and the Arnolfini Portrait. To attribute the whole statement to Gombrich in the way you did would be rather misleading, because it would make it sound like an individual and original view, perhaps a rather eccentric one - a very common fault in Wikipedian writing, which is (or used to be) prone to attribute in the text (as opposed to references) the most banal and well-known statements of fact to whatever obscure academic wrote the textbook the editor was using, as though they were that author's discovery. Johnbod (talk) 01:58, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Let's start again. What I want to do is follow the WP guidelines and Manual of Style. Please read WP:WEASEL:
Unsupported attributions
... some people say, many scholars state, it is believed, many are of the opinion, most feel, experts declare, it is often reported, it is widely thought, research has shown, science says ...
"Weasel words" are statements which appear to assert something but subtly imply something different, opposite or stronger in the way they are made. A common form of weasel wording is through vague attribution, where a statement is dressed with authority with no substantial basis. Phrases such as those above present the appearance of support for statements but can deny the reader the opportunity to assess the source of the viewpoint. They may disguise a biased view. Claims about what people say, think, feel, or believe, and what has been shown, demonstrated, or proved should be clearly attributed.[5] However, views which are properly attributed to a reliable source may use similar expressions if they accurately represent the opinions of the source. Reliable sources may analyze and interpret, but we, as editors, cannot do so ourselves, since that would be original research or would violate the neutral point of view. Equally, editorial irony and damning with faint praise have no place in Wikipedia articles.
The examples given above are not automatically weasel words, as they may also be used in the lead section of an article or in a topic sentence of a paragraph, where the article body or the rest of the paragraph supplies attribution.
Articles including weasel words should ideally be rewritten such that they are supported by reliable sources, or they may be tagged with the {{Weasel}} template so to identify the problem to future readers (who may elect to fix the issue).
That's the Wikipedia guideline. Are you willing to follow it when you edit Wikipedia? --Nbauman (talk) 02:25, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
I haven't looked at this always rather problemmatic piece for a while, & don't recognize this deeply confused passage. I have bolded what I think is the most relevant section, which is relatively clear. I believe the article already follows it, although more could be added, but this is most appropriately done below. I have a funny feeling you haven't read much beyonsd the lead; if this is correct you should. Johnbod (talk) 13:24, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
Hi Nbaubman, the painting's orginality can be sourced to a number of art history scholars. When I'm back to editing I'll add to what Johnbod's already added but don't have access to my sources right now to pull out specific quotes. The pages does need some clean up regardless. Truthkeeper (talk) 12:32, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
You don't seem to be too familiar with WP rules and guidelines.
1. You should not have bolded my comments. Please see WP:TPO "The basic rule—with some specific exceptions outlined below—is that you should not edit or delete the comments of other editors without their permission."
2. The body of the article does not supply attribution below. I already told you that the first thing I did before I edited it was to search through the entire article and it's not there.
3. My question is, "Are you willing to follow the WP:WEASEL guideline?" --Nbauman (talk) 15:05, 29 September 2012 (UTC)
That this painting is "considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art" has been challenged. I've added reasons for the complexity and five sources. I'd really like to use Otto Pacht's source, which would sum it up more succinctly, but I no longer have it at hand. I will try to order it again through interlibrary loan. The sources I've added are all scholarly papers written by specialists and well-known art historians. The word most often used in these sources to describe this painting is "unique". Hopefully this will put an end to the tagging. It's best to bring issues to the talk page imo. Truthkeeper (talk) 20:13, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Impossible mirror[edit]

The statement in the Description section "The convex mirror at the back, in a wooden frame with scenes of The Passion painted behind glass, is shown larger than such mirrors could actually be made at this date - another discreet departure from realism by van Eyck." is almost definitely wrong. It is also unreferenced although I see elsewhere on this talk page there is a quote attributed to Campbell.

The problem is that Ptolemy was experimenting with convex spherical mirrors 1300 years earlier. It was well within current technology to hammer a roughly accurate (i.e. approximately spherical) curve out of any of several metals, and then polish it until it was smooth and shiny. Any casual look at the history of armor will reveal a massive quantity of smooth curved metal, and in particular the extremely popular buckler was usually produced with a such a curve, and the better quality ones often shined to a semi-mirrored finish.

It's possible that Campbell assumed a glass mirror, in which case his estimate might be true. But in those days even most flat mirrors were metal, not glass. And it's also possible that Campbell was referring to some level of optical quality or mathematical precision. Again this would be true if we were comparing with (for instance) telescope technology. However for the purposes of a room decoration, or for a mirror for personal use, adequate precision could be easily achieved.

And then there's Archimedes' mirror, a most likely mythological weapon that used an array of mirrors to set ships on fire. While this has been mostly (though not entirely) discredited, the relevant part here is that scholars where discussing such things as possible a thousand years prior to this painting. To me all these things together make it clear that such a mirror was not only feasible, but almost inevitable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Battling McGook (talkcontribs) 21:06, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Campbell does assume a convex glass mirror, because they were what many rich Netherlanders used, as shown by some survivals & ones in other paintings. It looks like glass too. But they couldn't come that big. It is precisely typical of Van Eyck to distort the relative scale of objects in his pictures in this way. Johnbod (talk) 23:50, 6 May 2013 (UTC)
Other 15th century portrayals of convex mirrors I've seen (and there are many) all seem to show mirrors just as large or larger than this one. Either there was an epidemic of exaggerating mirror size, or such mirrors were fairly common. Battling McGook (talk) 18:13, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Quite a few Netherlandish ones are interpreted as homages to this. And one of the great advantages of painting luxury goods is that there are no constraints of technology or price. Think of jewels etc. This is what Campbell says anyway, & I know of no opposing sources. Johnbod (talk) 19:46, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Having just come away from a seminar in the Wallace Collection, where its Curator of Armour, Dr Tobias Capwell, described the growth of the bloom furnace some 50 years before as allowing the fabrication of larger sheets of metal, allowing the development of plate armour, presenting a helmet from this very period, rather larger than the mirror, which has a perfect mirror finish, I can but conclude that the depiction is at least consistent with the steel hypothesis. He additionally refered to Italians commentating on the English squires of such as Sir John Hawkwood, a very prominent mercenary, taking a professional pride in producing a mirror image in their master's plate armour. Without the mirror in question, of course, one cannot be entirely definitive, but the technology was at least there by then. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:34, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

Minor quibbles[edit]

Jan van Eyck fuit hic[edit]

Translates as "Jan van Eyck made this", not "Jan van Eyck was here" (unsigned)

No, that's the literal trans. Fuit is the "third-person singular perfect active indicative of sum", though "hic"'s main meaning is "this" not "here". So literally it means "Jan van Eyck was this". Johnbod (talk) 12:02, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

G van Eyck[edit]

1st paragraph. Who's he? Jan would translate into English as John. The French toponym used in his lifetime was Jean de Bruges.(unsigned)

A stray typo/vandalism Johnbod (talk) 12:00, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

Second paragraph vocabulary and sentence structure issues[edit]

Hello all- Below is a revised copy of my original post on Johnbod's talkpage, as yet unanswered. Inviting all comments.
@Johnbod, I would like to know why you think my wording changes to the second paragraph were not an improvement. I think my version reads better and is more clear. The sentence as you restored it in your revert is a bit long and awkward, and has a couple vocabulary issues. "Given" is not employed correctly, "uses" is not the best word to convey the fact that the mirror is part of the painted scene, and "considered" appears twice. Eric talk 03:49, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

I prefer the pre-existing choices, and think the original phrasing was clearer, in context. Fair enough re "considered", but otherwise the phrasing is couched and deliberate. Anyway hello Eric; please don't feel too slighted, and thanks for taking the time to consider and try to help. Ceoil (talk) 20:57, 26 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't feel slighted, and I know it's your wording, so I understand why you might be predisposed to prefer it. Not sure what phrasing you are referring to, nor what you mean by "couched and deliberate". I hope you will take my suggestion in good faith and look up the word "given". At best, its use in that sentence is unencyclopedic. Eric talk 02:11, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
You might look at various sites on "given that", bearing in mind that this article is written in British English, in which the use is fine (while "a given" is rather rare I think). There may be a WP:ENGVAR point there. I'm not going to go through each point, but I especially disliked your change of meaning on the painting as marriage contract point. If you don't know the difference between "setting" and "space", I'd avoid art history. I've rejigged the sentences somewhat. Please don't make any further changes without discussion. Johnbod (talk) 03:22, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
@Johnbod:, I don't understand your point re "given that", given it was not the construction used (Sorry, couldn't resist). It was the use of the word "given" that struck me as out of place. I find the painting beautiful, so do you. But "given", as it was employed in this article, is meant to present an accepted fact (in any variant of English). I believe that in an encyclopedia entry, we want to avoid stating that a work of art is definitively beautiful. Regarding your ENGVAR point: For dictionary links, I tend to use the AHD as not everyone has online access to the OED. The latter's relevant definition reads: Granted as a basis of calculation, reasoning, etc.; definitely stated, fixed, specified.
Re the marriage contract point, I don't think I changed the meaning. But I must say that I don't think I improved the wording either. That aspect of my edit was an attempt to make the passage more readable by breaking up what I saw as an overlong sentence.
While I doubtless lack your erudition in art history, I rely on a decent command of English to refute your comment re "setting" vs "space". If I'm wrong there, I'm in good company with many others in describing artworks, among them the National Gallery. You might just have to stride in there and enlighten them as well. Eric talk 12:28, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
Of course pictures may have settings, but they also have a picture space, which is not the same. I repeat my comment. I think this conversation has run its course. Johnbod (talk) 14:21, 27 September 2016 (UTC)
I would say so. Eric talk 15:37, 27 September 2016 (UTC)

Leap in views[edit]

Over 81k on 10-11 May. Anyone know why? Johnbod (talk) 08:01, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

Couple's reflections in the mirror are not holding hands.[edit]

A point added to the article today, which I've removed for style & lack of refs. But it does seem to be the case. I can't see Campbell mentions this. Do any other sources comment? Johnbod (talk) 14:25, 22 June 2017 (UTC)