Most academic interpretations build upon an existing structure of debate.It could be called the common-law approach to artistic jurisprudence.It is based on the idea that future interpretations of various phenomena will be like the past, except more so. Once case in point is Erwin Panofsky and his iconographic study of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Marriage,which appeared in the mid 1950′s.inevitably, whole gaggles of scholars elaborated his analysis, and applied it also to other paintings as a generalized theory. Predictably, was a post-modern reaction against such accounts, some valid, some little more than autobiographies of the imagination.
However, inspired by feminism, as well as a need to expand the dialogue by thinking outside the frame so to speak, art scholars, critics and historians became aware that their comfortable male centric vision, epitomized by Panofsky, said precious little concerning the patriarchal view of marriage presented by van Eyck and its inability to connect female passions with sometimes cruel circumstance where a world of suffocated dialogue, sometimes inexplicable rages and inexpugnable memories are embedded and forgotten within a male interpretation where the potential for women on the brink gives rise to no questioning of the issues of choice, destiny and female identity with its multiple instinctual projections. Of course, it comes back to dialogue. Interpreters always seem hyper-conscious of their time. That is, as the overall culture changes, interpretative styles tend to follow the bandwagon, sometimes adding to validities to complex narrative structures that often date back to antiquity. Within a feminist perspective, class and gender in the Marriage Portrait reveal some nagging anxieties, and perhaps the need to establish new bases of “dialogue” within a work of art, a speaking of a language of silence:
…just-listen means the removal of the ‘it’ filters through which we normally hear the world. and by so doing, the listening becomes itself the dialogue. the world speaks in its own silence. and it is there, in this silence, that we meet the world in-the-between. and it could be too, as Kafka says, an encounter of ecstasy. Buber spoke of i-thou dialogue with the realm of nature in which our dialogue stands at the threshold of language. the simple approach of allowing the world to speak its own silence, without us imposing on it our own systems of aesthetic values, or exploring it for the purposes of utilization, is the dialogical act of refusing to look at the world as if it were little more than an assemblage of individual and collective ‘its’. we respond ‘thou’ to the world from where we stand, as this is the only place from where the world speaks to us. the world speaks not in its own language, but in its own silence.( Hune Margulies) Read More:http://dialogicalecology.blogspot.com/2011/03/kafka-and-solitude.html
Elizabeth Abbott: Yet all the above may be wrong, even their names. Arnolfini is not Giovanni Arrigo- Arrigo married thirteen yuears after the portrait was painted, and six years after Van Eyck’s death- but Giovanni di Nicolao, his cousin, and Van Eyck’s painting is a memorial to his wife, Costanza Trenta, who by 1434 had already died, likely in childbirth, at the age of twenty. But why, in an era when women were not valued as individuals but for their lineage, was a dead woman memorialized? Precisely because of her lineage, which was the basis for the alliance her marriage had cemented.
The evidence for this theory is persuasive. Costanza’s blue-lined green dress symbolizes faithfulness and the state of being in love; Giovanni’s sombre garb expresses his grief at losing her. Costanza is deathly pale; he is in sad shadows. The little dog at her feet will be her companion in the afterlife, as are so many other dogs in funeral portraits of laid-out women. She died childless, and so her rounded belly hints at a pregnancy that she, like so many other women, did not survive. The single carpet and the two silver candlesticks signify that the bed behind her is the bed in which she will lie-in- and die in. Even the carved Saint Margaret is subdued, sorrowing rather than proudly besting the dragon. And Costanza’s hand is not folded into Giovanni’s but rather lies limply, fingers already slipping away.
Nearly six centuries after Van Eyck painted his masterpiece, its meaning and layered dimensions remain baffling. Art historians steeped in the history of fifteenth-century marriage interpret the painting’s rich details in light of law and custom, and their many versions of what it means are testimony to the complex nature of weddings and their relationship to marrage, and to the social, economic, and legal foundations of individual marriages.” Read More:http://hollaratzi.tumblr.com/post/10026703112/feministslut-xtwitterpated-the-arnolfini