Art Criticism Essay
Jan Van Eyck's "Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride"
An Essay by Joe Public
Jan Van Eyck's painting entitled "Giovanni Arnolfinni and his Bride" was painted in 1434 in the Northern Renaissance style. It is incredibly detailed something that is typical of Jan Van Eyck's work and creates the illusion of depth, directional light, rich textures and outstanding likeness of particular people. The Northern Renaissance style of painting is known for having symbolism and this work is the most obvious example of this characteristic.
First I will explain the use of colour in this work. The use of green in the woman's dress is a clear symbol of fertility and her head and veil are painted in lighter shades to depict her innocence. While viewing this painting you will notice that red has been dominantly used immediately behind the woman. This colour usage is thought to serve two different purposes, the presence of blood during the birthing process and red's association with love and passion. The lightening of the colours throughout this painting due to the light source to the left might suggest purity as the couple moves into a new unscathed way of life. The existence of symbolism in the types of lines in this work may be blurred or absent in this work due to Van Eyck's tendency to paint realistically. However, much symbolism can be found in the objects which can be seen scattered among the picture plain. The clothing on Giovanni Arnolfinni is representative of fashion for wealthy men of the day. The shoes of the young individuals are found lying in remote areas to represent the fact that they are on holy ground. A small dog can be seen to the bottom centre used to represent loyalty.