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Za Ĩloveka gre 2021 / All about people 2021

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Jan van Eyck: Giovanni Nicolao Arnolfini and His Wife - A New Interpetation.

There are two interpretations of the painting Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife (Jan Van Eyck) that stand out today. The first would argue that it is a wedding portrait (Panofsky) or even a morganatic marriage (Schabaker). The second is that the figures depicted are in fact the painter himself and his wife. The present study proposes a different approach. Relying on the pictorial artifice that dominates the painting (the mise en abyme), it reveals what is at stake in the connotations that the painting presupposes. Jan Van Eyck has used a symbology which itself indicates plurivalence and the opening up of many interpretative paths, yet convergent. The portrait of the Arnolfinis cannot be interpreted uniformly and in one block, without taking into account the spirit of the time. As for the narrative place of the canvas, everything suggests that it is a room in which most things are linked to the future birth. In this context, the most likely presupposition would be that Constanza died post partum. The pain on Nicolao Arnolfini's terrified face confirms this. The vanishing line, which shortens the space of the painting, prolongs the narrative range to infinity thanks to the convex mirror. It establishes a bridge to eternity, the only consolation for the mourning men.

Bostjan Marko Turk
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts


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