Tag Archives: Arnolfini Portrait

Working out reconstructions


BBC – A Stitch In Time

(iPlayer link)

“Fusing biography, art and the history of fashion, Amber Butchart explores the lives of historical figures through their clothes.”

In last week’s programme the suit of clothes worn by Charles II in what I think is often called the Pineapple portrait was investigated, and this week it was the turn of the Arnolfinis.

I have a particular liking for this painting and used it as the forma as it were for one of the bedrooms in Hogepotche Hall, bringing it a little further forward and into the early 1600s while keeping as many of the furnishings and as much of the colour scheme as I could.  It became a full room with four-poster bed, fireplace etc but I made the main viewing angle/opening only as wide as the view you get in the original painting.  There is a second angle to view from in Hogepotche as you can go round the corner and look in and across the room through the window shown in the painting.  Then, taking further liberties with the room, I added a second window opposite the foot of the bed.

If you’re interested in more detail of my imagined version of the painting see From Mirror to Room and the subsequent pages cover the figures too.

Back to “A Stitch In Time”

In the programmes we find out about the history of a particular painting and get to visit a gloriously fascinating workshop, in this case to see the making of a reconstruction of the Arnolfini green dress, the fabrics used, methods of construction, the version of the dress achieved and the opportunity to view it in motion on the human figure.

If you are at all interested in history, or the history of art and/or costume these short programmes are a treat.

The immortality of a portrait


The thing and the whole of the thing

theinfill - Medieval, Tudor, Jacobean dolls house 1:12 scale - Arnolfini room but in 1616Img_3926 - 4 poss

Putting together the bits and bobs to make the 1616 room

The Arnolfini Portrait

Jonathan Jones in The Guardian ‘penned’ an interesting piece in April 2000 which covers many of the painting’s aspects and ambiguities, but also its position in the society of 1434 and today:theinfill - Medieval, Tudor, Jacobean dolls house 1:12 scale - Arnolfini room

… This looks like a real world, with real people. The key to the picture is the mirror on the wall.”

and concludes with:

… The mirror, so significantly placed between the couple, is an image of what this painting claims to be: a true reflection.

This is what Van Eyck promises his sitters centuries before the invention of photography, in this painting which is an advert for his art. Your face, your wife’s face, your dog’s face, caught as truly as when you look in the mirror before going out to sell some fine Italian silks: Jan Van Eyck can record these for you … ”

” … This affluent couple have got what the pharaohs thought they could achieve through mummification. They are preserved, along with their dog, their fine clothes, and their oranges. The meaning of this painting is that wealth – the wealth to hire Van Eyck – can purchase immortality, even if no one will be quite sure what your name was.”

 Jonathan Jones, Saturday 15 April 2000

From mirror to room


a story in pictures

Rather than blog the minutiae of each stage of  the interpretation of this room, I plumped for a kaleidoscope of images on the cartoon model illustrating some of the steps in building my version of the van Eyck room.

Hovering on a photo shows any caption that’s been added, and if you click on any image it will take  you to a gallery view.

I hope you enjoy the splash of colour and imagery of the mosaic layout.

The are many articles discussing the symbolism within the van Eyck painting and I find myself adding my own; for example two, much used candles in the chandelier, two faithful pets (might add the third), a pair of birds at the window.  Make of them what you will.

On with the people, when I can get my brain together 😉

On with the room – part 2


A semi-closed box experience

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Having pre-prepped the mirror (oh so long ago – 18 months – more?), there were the rosary and the ‘whisk’ items to be made and a decision on whether to add some sort of signature/message in place of J van Eyck’s graffito.

Using whatever vaguely Medieval font I could find (a bit of a mix and match actually), I printed it out on tracing and ordinary papers to see what could be done.  I held one up, I held up another, I applied one with square edges to the cut paper it was on, one that papered the whole wall so there were no joins showing …  You get the idea.  Giving up, I went for one that is cut out and clarted to the wall declaring itself as a stuck piece of paper.  It’s poorly translated Latin and roughly says “Thrown together in 2014”, using the ‘J’ from Jan with its exuberant flourish above as a large capital ‘I’.

The taller of the 2 chairs is on a horrid platform to give a little more height in relation to its neighbours and this platform hopefully will be mostly eclipsed by the figure that’s eventually to go in front of it.

After the decision making process re which bed to use I’ve gone back to the big dark one as it is tall enough in relation to the ceiling and most of it will not be seen other than through the windows.  Very little of it is visible in the painting.

Next job is dressing the bed.

Why the ‘semi-closed box’ reference?  The painting is a fixed and blinkered pov which I hope to create via an opening only just wide enough to capture that point of view as closely as possible.  The rest should be just about viewable via the windows.

Interpretations of the portrait: