Reflections, Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites at the National Gallery


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The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) by Jan Van Eyck (d.1441)Whilst it is the major, blockbuster exhibitions like the current Charles I, King and Collector at the Royal Academy which receive most of the public’s attention, there remains an important role for smaller, focused exhibitions like Reflections, now showing at the National Gallery.

Reflections focuses on the influence of one painting, the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck. Painted in 1434, the picture was acquired by the National Gallery in 1842. It was the first example in the gallery’s collection of early C15 low country painting. And as such it represented a marked contrast from the Southern European Renaissance and Mannerist painting which dominated the collection and were typically seen as the high point of the art of painting.

The Arnolfini Portrait is a very sophisticated painting, highly naturalistic in execution, And with a quality of the detailing, such as the two figures greeting the pair who can only be…

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11 thoughts on “Reflections, Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites at the National Gallery

  1. That painting has long fascinated me. The use of the convex mirror to show the other characters in the painting is literally a stroke of genius.
    (And I love the little dog too)
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I always think its a bit sad that no one paints like this anymore, or perhaps they do but I don’t know about it but I always feel a painted portrait can capture aspects of a person’s character that a photographer never can. Then again, I may be wrong but its an untested belief of mine!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think some do but they’re so out of fashion that the big boys don’t take any notice. I agree with you that a painted portrait can often capture more of the character than a photograph but don’t tell James Hall, the author of this post, as he’s a photographer! James captures are incredible and often recreate the style and setting of Old Masters with models. He’s well worth following.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Arnolfini Portrait is endlessly fascinating to me. For example, why the shoes strewn on the floor? (Are they shoes?) Who are the people in the mirror? Also, why is the man(?) in black so creepy?

    Nevertheless, a gorgeous painting, so rich in colour.

    Liked by 2 people

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