The Arnolfinis, 1434


Arnolfini Portrait, by Jan Van Eyck

My name is Jan Van Eyck.
I painted these two in oil.
What is there not to like?
It shows in exquisite detail Arnolfinis at home
And newly done in oil. Not tempera.
My name is Van Eyck, Jan.
These Lucchessi are well to do:
The wife so wan
Yet dressed in all the very richest clothing.
I have painted her doggie too. In oil.

In the mirror way in the back I put in myself.
Signed, and dated: Johannes de Eyck fuit fourteen thirty-four.
Van Eyck was here.
So was Nicolao Arnolfini the same year,
But not his wife For she was no more.
We’re Arnolfini, got no bambini,
That’s just a lot of dress
We’re trying to express
Our substantialness.
Don’t we look wealthy?
I’m not so healthy,
Fact is, I think I’m dead. And buried.
Scholars have been misled.
In any case, we’re wed. We’re married.
There’s symbolism ev’rywhere: look at the chandelier.
His candle’s lit and hers is out, because she isn’t here!
I was a hatter.
That doesn’t matter.
Now you’re the one bereft,
And this memorial is all that’s left.
In oil.

©2012 Ajemian and Newcomb


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