The Arnolfini portrait, painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434, is one of the world’s most famous paintings. This haunting gem of medieval art, a subtle and beautiful portrait of a wealthy Bruges merchant and his wife, intrigues all who see it.
Is the painting the celebration of a marriage or pregnancy, a memorial to a wife who died in childbirth, a fashion statement or a status symbol? Using her forensic skills as an art historian, Carola Hicks sets out to decode the mystery.
She also tells the story of the painting’s survival through fire and battle, and of its owners. Uniquely for a masterpiece of its age, its provenance can be tracked through every single owner – from the mysterious Mr Arnolfini to being an early star of the National Gallery in 1842 – and these owners have a cameo appearance too, in this enthralling story of how an artwork of genius speaks afresh to each new generation.
‘Exploring the double-portrait image in often revelatory detail, Hicks presents a truly inspiring picture of her own’
The Times, Books of the Year
‘An author who opens our eyes, deepens our understanding and makes us keen to look again’
Frances Spalding, Daily Mail
‘This book has sent me back to the painting…with wider and more inquisitive eyes’