The First Contextual Studies Seminar 13/09/16


The first painting that I want comment is The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan van Eyck 1434. Here we can see italian origin family – local girl and banker. This canvas has a lot of details that have their own stories . Many symbols such as glass window, huge bed, oranges,chandelier, fur on Arnolfini’s clothes or red material in interior can show us the riches of this people. I was surprised that at that time such simple things like oranges and glass window could afford only people with large incomes.

Firslty , then I saw a woman , I thought that she is pregnant , but our teacher explained that she wears high waist, because it was fashionable in that ime. I really liked this facts , beacuse nowadays this trend remains popular.

There is one thing that I like the most in this painting – it is a mirror. In reflection we can see couple’s backs and two more people. I have a feeling that the artist has painted me and another person , who is also looking on this drawing, like we are witnesses of their wedding ceremony.

The second one is  “The Vanities of Human Life”1645 by Harmen

This type of painting is called Vanitas. Сomparing it with the first picture, where each character symbolizes wealth, this one refers to that fact , when you will die you have nothing.

Books represent human knowledge, musical instruments – sensual pleasure. Japanese sword and a shell, both collectible rarities symbolize wealth. Chronometer and extinguished the lamp allude to the transience and frailty of human life. In the foreground is placed the skull – a symbol of death.

This picture makes me feel a little bit upset and start to think about life and how people focus on material wealth, but not on the good things that they could have done and how humane they were to others.


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