Portrait of a man (c.1438-1440)

Van Eyck, Jan (c.1390-1441)

Portrait of a man (from the Arnolfini family?)
Oil on oak, 30 x 21.6 cm

The man, whose identity is not indicated by the picture itself, apparently belonged to the middle class, as his good, but by no means rich, clothing reveals. Without a doubt, this is the same man who can be seen in Jan van Eyck‘s famous London double portrait of 1434 together with his wife. Since the 19th century, the sitters on the London panel have been referred to as the Arnolfini couple. The Arnolfini were a merchant family from Lucca, Italy, some of whose members lived in Bruges, Flanders. However, this identification is by no means as certain as is often assumed; more recently, it has been called into question several times. If the man in the London double portrait is not Arnolfini, the same would apply to the man depicted in Berlin. Compared to the London painting, it seems to be somewhat older here, which is why the Berlin panel is usually dated to the end of the 1430s. It is highly remarkable that Jan van Eyck depicted the same man twice – a more or less unique case in the collection of Old Netherlandish painting. The person portrayed, no matter what his name was, was probably a friend or good acquaintance of the painter. (Gemäldegalerie)


Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (1434)

Van Eyck, Jan (c.1390-1441)
Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife
National GalleryLondon



See also:

• Arnolfini, Giovanni di Nicolao (c.1400-after 1452)