Another example is Jan
van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait, 1434. This painting serves to
verify that this man and woman actually did marry.
Portrait (van Eyck, 1434)
Arnolfini was living in Flanders far from his native Italy.
When it came time for him to
marry, a matchmaker found a nice Italian girl living with her parents in
Paris. She traveled up to meet him, and they got married in his home, as
pictured here. Not only is the groom taking the loyal oath of matrimony, but
also everything else in the painting documents the episode. Below, the dog
represents marital fidelity (dogs are loyal to their masters); Giovanni is
barefooted (his wooden sandals are at the bottom left) as he treads on the
ground of holy matrimony; the window shutters are open and citrus fruit is on
the sill referencing the profession of the man (import/export); the bed is on
the bride’s side of the painting as her role is to produce children; the
chandelier has one lit candle (the presence of God at the wedding); and the
mirror and rosary beads on the back wall evidence their Catholic faith.
However, above the mirror, Jan van Eyck wrote his name to verify the
actuality of the event, and within the reflection in the mirror, figures are
standing where we are, again suggesting that the couple married with the
appropriate witnesses. In effect, this painting serves as marriage