slide school | arnolfini wedding portrait

slide school is a bi-weekly education session (with myself ;) in which i attempt to remember bits and pieces i learned about specific artworks in my university art history classes. i get to peek at my notes, but not online.

art history was pretty intense. first of all - when i was in university, the internet - while certainly popular - was not nearly what it is today (labyrinth-like rabbit hole of unending information). there was about two websites with images of the works we studied in class (and only the paintings that were very well known). many of the images were not even in our textbooks. we got to see the slide once for about 10 minutes in the classroom and then we had to ingrain it into our brains. i should point out that powerpont did in fact exist at this time but our professors were far too old and set in their ways to use it. so when the time came for an exam, i would print off grainy versions of what i had seen in class (and cross my heart and hope that the colours weren't wrong and the image wasn't backwards*), or i would draw a cartoon version of the piece from memory on index cards. on the back we wrote the title, artist, date, medium, art historical period and at least three facts about the piece. bonus points for location of the artwork nowadays. i would walk up and down the dorm room halls and flip those index cards like a madwomen. just looking at them, i could tell you the exact dates of about fifty different artworks at any given time. people thought me bizarre - but it was what we were expected to do! 

all that being said i should remember stuff right? the things i remember are so random and unspecific - chagall used gouache, gauguin lived on an island, manet never used black...umm.... oh gosh - this is going to be embarrassing isn't it? can i start with an easy one?

*if you are doing some sort of school project and ended up here, please note i cannot guarantee that any of this information below is even remotely accurate!

title | never actually given a title. referred to as "arnolfini wedding portrait"
artist | jan van eyck
date | uh...gosh um...1567?**
medium | oil
art historical period | gothic? byzantine? ***
three facts | okay - this i remember. the dog symbolizes fertility, as do the shoes and the fruit i think. she looks pregnant but she's not actually (wouldn't that be scandalous!), the artist is reflected in the mirror i believe, and the little circles around the mirror are stations of the cross. in my notes i've written that it's a good example of a work with "clear lines" - whatever that means...

* this happened all the time in those early internet days. things got scanned or photographed and ended up as a reflection of what they actually were.
** i looked it up after writing this post - it's actually 1434. a century off isn't so bad is it? i guess i was thinking "15th" century?
*** somewhat accurate because those styles were happening at this time but this particular work falls into the early italian renaissance.


  1. Oh, this brings back memories! I had the most beautiful cue cards ever!! I wish I kept them so I could refer to them now, but I threw all of my university stuff out...

  2. Hahaha.. I love this new feature. Glad to hear I am not the only one that doodle quick sketches of the slides in my notes. I like to think those doodles led to my high GPA!

  3. I studied this painting in college too. I was TERRIBLE at art history, but this was one of my favorite paintings. My husband + I saw it on our honeymoon + I have a postcard of it by my bed. I thought that was so cool :) The dog symbolizes loyalty ;)

    1. this has always been one of my favourites too! at least it was until i discovered modern and contempoary art, lolol. LUCKY YOU seeing it on your honeymoon - i could just about die with jealously!

      p.s. thanks for the tip on the dog symbolism!


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