Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8338
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Harbison , Craig.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Sexuality and Social Standing in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Double Portrait [The painting of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Giovanna Cenami depict the couple holding hands while standing in the bedroom, but the rest of the iconography and inscriptions throughout the image do not necessarily suggest that the double portrait is the visual equivalent of a marriage certificate or contract. The visual representation of husband and wife (including gestures and iconography) is instead a more generalized image of marriage that reflects the importance of fertility and defined sexual roles for men and women. Furthermore, the artist's detailed depiction of domestic space projects the social status, courtly aspirations, and religious values of the merchant class Arnolfini couple. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Renaissance Quarterly 43, 2 (Summer 1990): Pages 249 - 291.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Painting Burgundy Bride, Image of Bruges, West- Vlaanderen, Belgium Courtly Behavior Domestic Life, Image of Domestic Space in Art Fertility Flanders Gesture in Art Husbands in Art Iconography Imagery Jan van Eyck, Painter- Arnolfini Double P
  • Geographic Area: Low Countries
  • Century: 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Painting; Jan van Eyck, "Arnolfini Double Portrait," 1434, National Gallery, London. Painting is a double portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife holding hands while standing in a bedroom, which is filled with various household objects (including bed, convex mi
  • Illustrations: Fifteen Figures. Figure One Jan van Eyck, "Arnolfini Double Portrait," 1434, National Gallery, London. Painting is a double portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife holding hands while standing in a bedroom ~~filled with various household objects (including bed, convex mirror, broom, ~~rosary beads, oranges, slippers, and a little dog). On the back wall of the room is a Latin inscription reading (translated into English) "Jan van Eyck was here 1434." Figure Two Marriage Pendant, first half of fifteenth century, anonymous Burgundian artist, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts (48.262). Jeweled brooch depicts a man and wife holding hands. Figure Three Jan van Eyck, "Arnolfini Double Portrait," 1434, National Gallery, London. Detail of painting depicts the couple's joined hands, on the chair bench directly above the their hands on the surface of the painting is a pair of carved figures resembling gargoyles. Figure Four Roger van der Weyden and workshop, "Seven Sacraments Altarpiece," about 1440, right wing, Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (no. 395). Detail of painting depicts the performance of a marriage ceremony inside a church. A priest stands between a man and woman holding hands and angels float above the couple. Figure Five Mansel, John, "The Trinity Granting a Child to a Couple," from ~~"Traites divers," third quarter of fifteenth century, Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, MS 5206, fol. 1794. Manuscript llumination depicts a husband and wife in bad, while a small child flies down toward them from the heavens. Oranges lie on the windowsill and chest in the bedroom, and cherries cover the tree outside the window. Cherries also appear within the decorated initial that begins the text below the illustration. Figure Six Roger van der Weyden, "Annunciation," about 1440, Paris, Musee du Louvre ~~(inv. 1982). Painting depicts the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, who is seated reading an a fully furnished domestic interior. Figure Seven Willem van der Hecht, "Picture Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest," 1628, Antwerp, Rubens' House. Detail of painting of a lost image by Jan van ~~Eyck depicts a nude woman standing in a room before a convex mirror while ~~attended by another clothed woman. Figure Eight "Duke of Brabant Ansegius and His Wife Begga," anonymous Dutch artist, engraving from Hadrian Barland, "Ducum Brabantinae Chronica (Antwerp, 1600), 9. Engraving depicts the duke and his wife standing inside a room accompanied by their familial coat of arms. The duke holds a falcon and a greyhound sits at his feet, ~~while the woman is attended by a small lap dog. Figure Nine "Marriage Feast of Phillip the Good and Isabella of Portugal," around 1431, anonymous Flemish artist, Versailles, Chateau. Painting depicts well-dressed noble men and women socializing in an open field. Figure Ten Master of the ~~Dresden Prayer Book, "The Temperate and the Intemperate," about 1480, from ~~Valerius Maximus, "Facta et Dicta Memorabili," Leipzig, Bibliothek der ~~Karl-Marx-Universitat, MS Rep. I 116, fol 2. Manuscript Illumination depicts dignified nobles seated at a raised table on a dais and unruly peasants at their own table below the dais. Figure Eleven Master of the "City of Ladies," "Christine de Pisan Presenting Her Work to Isabeau of Bavaria," about 1410-1415. From Christine de Pisan, "Oeuvres," London, British Library, Harley MS 4431, fol. 3. Manuscript Illumination depicts Christine kneeling while presenting her book to Isabeau in a lavishly decorated courtly interior. Figure Twelve "Jean Mielot Presenting His Work to Phillip the Good," after 1457, anonymous Flemish artist, from Jean Mielot, "Traite sur l'oraison dominicale," Brussels, Bibliotheque Royale ~~Albert le Premier, MS 9092, fol 1. Manuscript Illumination depicts Jean Mielot kneeling while presenting his work to Phillip in a fully decorated courtly interior that includes a curtained bed and tiled floor. Figure Thirteen "Dedication Miniature," about 1460, anonymous artist working for ~~Rene of Anjou, Vienna, Nationalbibliothek, MS 2617, fol. 14v. Manuscript Illumination depicts a man kneeling while presenting a book to a richly dressed noblewoman. The figures are in a fully furnished domestic interior including a curtained bed, open window, and woven rug. Figure Fourteen ~~Loyset Liedet (attributed), "Charles the Bold Surprising David Aubert," 1468, from "Historie de Charles Martel," Brussels, Bibliotheque Royale Albert le Premier, MS 8, fol. 7. Manuscript Illumination depicts Aubert at work in his study in a domestic space that includes a chandelier, convex ~~mirror, dusting brush, rosary beads, little dog, and an inscription reading "Je lay emprins" (the motto of Duke Charles). Figure Fifteen "Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde," anonymous Netherlandish artist, about 1430, the Hague, Netherlands. Painting (engagement or wedding portrait) of Lysbeth depicts the woman with her right hand extended holding a scroll, which has an inscription reading (translated into English): "I am weary of hoping so long; who is he that will open his heart?"
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  • Author's Affiliation: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1990.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00344338
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