Jan van Eyck – The Arnolfini Marriage (1434)

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OK, I’ll throw a couple out real quick since I have to leave for class in like 10 min.

* The green of her dress implies fertility and the bulge at her tummy may be just the bunching up of the dress but may also be showing her pregnancy. Since it’s not *really known* what happened to her–she may have died during childbirth–it’s thought this painting was done after the fact and she was added in post-mortem.

* Arnolfini was a wealthy fabrics merchant which we can tell from the purple in this dress (an expensive pigment) as well as the way he is dressed, an outfit not befitting of someone poor

* What reinforces the idea that they were rather well off is the 2nd story room, the mirror (which, at that size, was either impossible for the time or extremely expensive), the oranges near the window sill–we can also see out the window some cherry blossoms which would indicate spring, oranges being a rare and expensive fruit for the locale and time of year), as well as the chandelier which would imply money and would have been situated close to the ceiling but artistic liscense has lowered to reinforce how rich they were.

* The red of the bed showing consumation of a marriage and relating directly to the church. The blue and white she is wearing relating directly to mother Mary.

* The dog which is a common theme to signify loyalty, reinforcing the idea that it is a marriage portrait.

* Also, one of the candles being burnt out, perhaps restating the idea of a death.

* BONUS: “why is she balding?”, women at the time would pluck the fore of their heads to create a ‘faux receding hairline’, thought to be an attractive trait at the time.

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