oil on canvas, 81.8- 59.7 cm. - London, National Gallery
The fact of that in the heart of the quattrocento, a merchant from Italy, a country of exceptional artists, called Giovanni Arnolfini, chose a Flemish painter - Jan van Eyck- to paint the portrait of his wife and himself was not as exceptional as it could seem, since the important commerce between both countries favored these contacts. Nevertheless, the result of this order was truly exceptional.
Despite being one of the most famous and important pictures of the History of Art, the Arnolfini portrait is a work full of mysteries and allegorical elements. First, it is not clear if the man in the portrait is Giovanni Arnolfini or his brother Michele posing with his wife Elisabeth. The apparent state of pregnancy of the lady has also caused debate, since many experts think that such pregnancy does not exist, and that the female figure is the result of the aesthetic canon of the 15 th century. The curved mirror of the wall - skilful mastery of perspective by van Eyck- shows us that, in addition to the portrayed couple, there are two more people in the room, one of them the painter. Even the inscription/signature on the wall, "Johannes de Eyck fuit hic. 1434." (Jan van Eyck was here. 1434.) made some experts think that the male figure is a self-portrait of the painter, option discarded by almost all modern scholars. All in all, one of the most important paintings of all the European Renaissance.
Text by G. Fernández, www.theartwolf.com