Background

Arnolfini Histories:
Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait
and its Receptions

‘I should think it’s the finest picture in the world.’
– Burne-Jones on the Arnolfini Portrait (19 February 1897)

Acquired by the National Gallery in 1842, Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) with its rich colours, precise detail, and enigmatic symbolism had a profound and lasting impact upon the young Pre-Raphaelite artists who banded together six years later to challenge the art establishment of the day. Fascination with Van Eyck’s painting persisted in artistic circles and the public imagination alike, and the Arnolfini Portrait came to achieve almost cult-like status in the ongoing discussions around the art-historical canon. Van Eyck’s potent influence on the avant-garde painting of the P.R.B. initiated a transhistorical visual dialogue whose ramifications can be traced throughout the development of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and beyond.

Organised in conjunction with the exhibition Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites (Sunley Room, National Gallery, 2 October 2017 – 2 April 2018, in collaboration with Tate), this conference will explore the complexities of the relationship between Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites. Areas to be explored may include: Netherlandish art and its nineteenth-century reception, conservation and technique, colour, mirrors and mirroring, painting and literature, photography, magic and the supernatural.

The Arnolfini Histories conference will be held on 12-13 January 2018 at the National  Gallery. It is convened by Professor Liz Prettejohn (University of York) and Dr Claire Yearwood.

Image: The Mirror (1900) by Sir William Orpen; presented by Mrs Coutts Michie through the Art Fund in memory of the George McCulloch Collection 1913 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02940. Photo  © Tate,  reproduced under Creative Commons licence CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0