Analysis of symbols used in the Marriage of Giovanni Arnofini

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Marriage of Giovanni Arnofini was a Renaissance oil-painting masterfully painted by Jan van Eyck to depict the marriage between Italian businessman Arnofini and Jeanne de Chenany. The artist’s material practices have flawlessly captured the moment of this incidence with mirror-like realism. However, it’s the symbols that are used in its conceptual practices that gives meaning and delivers messages subtlety in pure visual form. Many ordinary objects found indoor that appears on the painting are not just for ornamental purposes, rather, they give layers of meaning to the marriage scene depicted and also provide cultural and historical background to when the painting was painted. A mirror has been prominently positioned in the upper middle part of the picture plane. It is round with a wooden frame that has gear-shaped curves and features patterns of the Gothic style, which, naturally appeared to be a common household object that typifies popular interior designs of the 1400s. However, the clear reflection of the marrying couple and the artist himself reveals the nature of the painting, which is a record for the betrothal. This also explains why is the painting painted with realistic mirror-like visual qualities, as it’s because in Renaissance, the period when the painting was painted, there was no technological advances like cameras to capture images from important events and scenes of these events could only be recorded via art forms such as paintings. The clarity of the image in the mirror also represents purity in this marriage. In someway, the mirror can be symbolizing the artist him self — witnessing the whole course of the event objectively. Its prominent position signifies the significance of itself as a symbol. A number of symbols in this painting seem to have cultural meanings and the way that van Eyck has arranged them delivers his messages. In

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