Comparing Three Portraits Comparison Essay by scribbler

Comparing Three Portraits
A comparison of the 'Arnolfini Portrait" by Jan van Eyck, "Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" by Frida Kahlo, and the "Armitabha Triad", painted by a Buddhist artist.
# 153177 | 1,525 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 05, 2013 in Art (History) , Art (Painting)

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This paper compares and contrasts three portraits; the "Arnolfini Portrait" (also known as the Arnolfini Marriage) by Jan van Eyck, "Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" by Frida Kahlo, and the "Armitabha Triad", painted by a Buddhist artist sometime during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The paper finds that of the three portraits, only Van Eyck's uses a light source and shadowing and van Eyck uses a sophisticated elliptical perspective that is lacking in the other two portraits, but, the use of symbolism is cleverly employed in all three. The paper also points out the different intentions behind each of the three portraits.

The Arnolfini Portrait
The Kahlo Portrait
The Goryeo Buddhist Portrait

From the Paper:

"The Arnolfini Portrait is an oil painting on oak panel by Jan van Eyck, dated 1434. The painting, which measures approximately thirty-two by twenty-three inches, is part of the permanent display at the National Gallery in London. The portrait is thought to depict Italian merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges. In 1934, Erwin Panofsky suggested the couple had been misidentified, however, citing their handclasp as evidence. In the painting, the man's left hand grasps the right hand of the woman. By tradition, couples of equal social status would have joined right hands in the marriage ceremony. The left hand-right hand grasp denoted that the couple were not social equals; this was not the case with Arnolfini and his bride, leading to the conclusion that the couple in the painting represents two other people (Sandler 488). The couple has not been definitively identified.
"Regardless of the identity of the couple, Van Eyck's painting is considered remarkable for several reasons. First, it marks an early use of oil paints instead of tempera, which had been a traditional medium for portrait artists. Second, Van Eyck's rendering of detail was meticulous. He used symbolism in the painting, but everything was done with a realism that had been previously unknown. His use of light was magnificent and he was able to capture the essence of a room and the people and objects within it."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Carlton, David. "A Mathematical Analysis of the Perspective of the Arnolfini Portrait and Other Similar Interior Scenes by Jan van Eyck." Art Bulletin 64.1 (1982) : 118-123.
  • Delahunt, Stephen. ArtLex Art Dictionary: Symbol. 1999-2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2011.<>.
  • Farthing, Stephen, ed. Art: From Cave Painting to Street Art, 40,000 Years of Creativity.London: Quitessence, 2010. Print.
  • "Frida Kahlo: Self Portrait". Instructor 116.2 (2006) : 36.
  • National Gallery, The. Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Portrait. n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2011. <>.

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