Reflections – Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

Visiting the National Gallery last week I made two discoveries…

The first was that the Pre -Raphaelite painters, that I had always admired, were formed in 1842 when as a group of students, tired of copying the melodramatic paintings their tutors admired, discovered the newly acquired Van Eyck Arnolfini Portrait (1434).

Not only were they delighted to see  normal people in domestic settings   but they  were entranced by the depth and detail of his  work which  was almost photographic(the earliest form of photography was just appearing). They even debated whether the woman in the picture was a fallen woman or it was a marriage ceremony and she was not pregnant but simply holding up her voluminous skirt.

From then on the Pre-Raphaelite Brothers painted in their well loved exquisite style, there are many examples in this exhibition and a fascinating 10 minute video on a continuous loop just to show that pre-raphaelites can rock multi-media too

My second discovery was that the old round convex mirror with a gilt frame that lies unwanted under my bed is much the same as the one used by Van Eyck and then the Pre- Raphaelites in their paintings to add secret and intriguing glimpses of what is going on around the models in the picture, thus the title of the exhibition.

REFLECTIONS – VAN EYCK AND THE PRE-RAPHAELITES
National Gallery
October 2 2017-April 2 2018
Usual opening hours