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Instead of depicting the sacrament of marriage, Hall argues, the painting commemorates the alliance between two wealthy and important Italian mercantile families, a ceremonious betrothal that reflects the social conventions of the time. Hall not only unlocks the mystery that has surrounded this work of art, he also makes a unique contribution to the fascinating history of betrothal and marriage custom, ritual, and ceremony, tracing their evolution from the late Roman Empire through the fifteenth century and providing persuasive visual evidence for their development. His illuminating view of Van Eyck's quintessential work is a striking example of how art continues to endure and engage us over the centuries.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Eyck, Jan van, 1390-1440, Wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfi and Keanne Cenami, Panel painting 15th century Expertising Flanders, Marriage customs and rites, Medieval