Analyzing Art in the Northern Renaissance

I agree with Sayre on how he interprets Arnolfini. He views it as an illustration of an engagement (Sayre, 2013). This is informed by the fact that they have joined hands in the portrait. This, he interprets as a sign of the promise to be wed. Another reason that makes this interpretation to be more persuasive is the manner in which Giovanna is represented holding her dress in front of her abdomen, which can be used to represent fertility. I believe that these two are hopeful of a good marriage. Another reason that supports the idea of the image representing an engagement is the sculptural representation of Saint Margaret at the back of the painting. St. Margaret is regarded as a patron saint of childbirth. 

If I would have a portrait done with my spouse, I would first make sure that we are represented standing facing each, and with hands outstretched to form a circle. This would symbolize the nature of our relationship that is just between the two of us with no external influence. I would like to have a background of an expansive ocean with no visible end on the horizon. This would seek to imply that the relationship would be forever and with no end. Besides us, there should be a large chest with two swallows drawn on its faces. This would symbolize that just like sailors show off their sailing experience, we would also have experiences in our married life together. I would also have included on top of the chest, a bowl full of fresh fruits. This would signify that our lives are productive and fruitful. 

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Sayre, H. M. (2013). A World of Art. Boston: Pearson.

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