Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eyck

Topics: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Obstetrics Pages: 3 (976 words) Published: December 19, 2012
“Arnolfini Marriage” is a very famous painting by Jan Van Eyck painted in the early 15th century, which is in the National Gallery in London. According to the Catalogue of the National Gallery, the painting is just a portrait of the couple Arnolfini that is showing their marriage. Waldemar Januszczak, an author and presenter, believes that this portrait was wrongly named and it should have been called “the Arnolfini Pregnancy”. Januszczak believes that Mrs. Arnolfini is pregnant and she is dead at the time this artwork was painted. Januszczak has these proofs for Mrs. Arnolfini to be pregnant; the way that her dress was cut with the bulge on her belly and the protective gesture with comparison to the “Annuciation”, a painting by Van Cleve. The other claim of Januszczak has is the death of Mrs. Arnolfini and he supports this declaration with historical information about the danger of death in childbirth in 1500s, pregnant women paintings by Marcus Gheeraerts, the letter from Mrs. Arnolfini’s mother and the symbolism highly used in the painting.

Waldemar Januszczak believes that Mrs. Arnolfini was pregnant the first supporting fact is the dressing of the lady. The dress of Mrs. Arnolfini has a bulge on her stomach. According to the Catalogue of National Gallery “the lovely bulge in her stomach is just the way her dress was cut.” But “the protective gesture” of hers supports the claim of her being pregnant.

The mood of the painting supports the upcoming baby. The way the lady stays and the protectiveness of her hand completes the mood of motherhood that Van Eyck wanted to get. The artist created the mood so successfully after him the concept of motherhood was used in art as the way he used in “the Arnolfini Marriage”. For example in “Annunciation”, a famous Virgin Marry painting by Van Cleve, an artist who followed Van Eyck, there are very similar motifs with “the Arnolfini Marriage”. The bed, the candles, the window, the space, in short the mood is very...
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