Friday, 14 February 2014
Girl in a Green Gown - Carola Hicks
The mysteries in question are: who are the people depicted (Hicks just accepts it is Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife without any real airing of the arguments; and in my view she has plumped for the wrong Giovanni and thus the wrong wife); what made van Eyck, painter of altarpieces and the occasional stand-alone portrait, invent the curious notion of the double portrait (and, indeed, is it actually a portrait as such, or a compilation of elements?); and who are the people seen in the mirror?
The lack of a biographical sketch of van Eyck is a big mistake. He's not the best documented painter who ever lived but there is more known about him than is included here. I would also have liked something about his contemporaries, van der Weyden, Campin and Petrus Cristus, all of whom echoed (or were echoed in) The Arnolifini Marriage in their work.