Acquired by the in 1842, Jan van Eyck’s (1434) with its rich colours, precise detail, and enigmatic symbolism had a profound and lasting impact upon the young Pre-Raphaelite artists who banded together six years later to challenge the art establishment of the day. Fascination with Van Eyck’s painting persisted in artistic circles and the public imagination alike, and the Arnolfini Portrait came to achieve almost cult-like status in the ongoing discussions around the art-historical canon. Van Eyck’s potent influence on the avant-garde painting of the P.R.B. initiated a transhistorical visual dialogue with ramifications that can be traced throughout the development of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and beyond.
The conference is organised in conjunction with the exhibition (Sunley Room, National Gallery, 2 October 2017 – 2 April 2018, in collaboration with Tate) and will explore the complexities of the relationship between Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites. Areas covered will include: Netherlandish art and its nineteenth-century reception, conservation and technique, colour, mirrors and reflections, painting, literature, photography, and the materiality of things in the Arnolfini Portrait. Keynote papers will be delivered by Tim Barringer (Yale University) and Cordula Grewe (Indiana University).
The Arnolfini Histories conference will be held on 12-13 January 2018 at the National Gallery, London. The conference is a collaboration between the National Gallery and the University of York with generous support from the government of Flanders and York Art History Collaborations (YAHCs), and is convened by Professor Liz Prettejohn (University of York) and Dr Claire Yearwood.