Reflections: van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites – National Gallery until 2 April 2018

The Arnolfini portrait (Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife), 1434 Jan van Eyck

William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founders of The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood  in 1848, all became fascinated with The Arnolfini Portrait and the use of a mirror in domestic scenes to explore narrative and drama.  What can you see in the mirror? And does it show things or people otherwise hidden in the painting?

The exhibition – which brings together a wide range of paintings from UK public and private collections, and even one of the convex mirrors owned by Rossetti (Kelmscott Manor, Gloucestershire) – includes Pre-Raphaelite paintings which featured mirrors as an artistic device, including Hunt’s ‘Awakening Conscience‘ (1853), Rossetti’s ‘Lucrezia Borgia‘ (1860–1) and Holman Hunt’s ‘Il Dolce far Niente‘ (1866).

The Mirror, 1900 Sir William Orpen

By the 1860s the original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had disbanded as the artists’ styles developed in different directions. But van Eyck’s convex mirror continued to inspire the next generation of artists, including Mark Gertler, William Orpen and Charles Haslewood Shannon, who continued to incorporate the mirror into their domestic portraits well into the early 1900s, as seen in Orpen’s ‘The Mirror‘ (1900) – featured left – and Gertler’s ‘Still Life with Self-Portrait‘ (1918).

Exhibition details van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites here!

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