Wed 29 Aug 2007
7 Famous Mirrors (cont)
•6: The Eye of God
Just when you
hoped thought I might have forgotten about my 7 Famous Mirrors I am pleased to present for your edification #6 – Jan Van Eyck’s portrait ‘The Marriage of the Arnolfinis’.
The image of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami on their wedding is among the most recognizable of Renaissance paintings. The famous convex mirror, behind and between the Arnolfinis, holds a pivotal place in the picture’s composition.
Things to note about the mirror:
•It is unlikely that a mirror of the size depicted could have been made at the time of the Arnolfinis. Van Eyck has probably exaggerated its size to emphasize its symbolic importance.
•Experts speculate that the mirror is representative of the Eye of God watching over the wedding, an hypothesis which is further emphasized by the small medallions depicting the Passion of Christ inlaid around the frame.
• The mirror reflects two people standing in front of the Arnolfinis (that is, where we, the audience, would be standing if we were actually there). One of them, a figure in a blue smock, is thought to be the painter. The identity of the other is not known.
Thing is, whenever I’ve looked at this picture I’ve never been able to shake the kinda creepy feeling that the other figure standing there beside Van Eyck is… me…