Van Eyck, the Arnolfini Marriage and the Pre-Raphaelites

This course investigates the famous fifteenth-century Netherlandish artist – Jan van Eyck and a legendary group of British painters – the Pre-Raphaelites who came together as a brotherhood in 1848.  The group, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), sought to emulate medieval and early Renaissance art, a time before the emergence of the polished and perfected art of Raphael.  While both artist and brotherhood are well documented, they have not as yet been studied together. With their distinctive approach to painting, the Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Van Eyck’s meticulous oil-painting technique.

The exhibition at the National Gallery (2 Oct – 2 April 2018) considers Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Marriage (1434) and the ways in which it provided inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites with their strong sense of empirical observation and a shared interest in how painted objects could carry symbolic meanings. The course offers a survey of Van Eyck with particular attention to the Arnolfini Marriage as well as Pre-Raphaelite works that show this profound connection.


Tutor: Emma Rose Barber

Dates:  Tuesday 24 Oct and Wednesday 25 Oct

Time:   10.30-4.30pm

Venue: Gosling Room


Course structure (subject to change)

Day One

A survey of the life and times of Jan van Eyck

A survey of the life and times of the Pre-Raphaelites

Slide show of similar subjects and treatments: The Annunciation, figures in domestic interiors, paintings with objects concealing symbolic meaning, paintings with moral messages


Critics and early and contemporary reception of Van Eyck and the brotherhood


Day Two

Analysis of the Arnolfini Marriage

A consideration of the painting in relation to an analysis of selected Pre-Raphaelite paintings

Sharing ideas about why the group looked at Van Eyck’s art

Legacy of the artists and what their art means to us today