Dr Richard Stemp: The Art of Jan van Eyck

The History of Art Society were delighted to welcome Dr Richard Stemp to deliver an online lecture, discussing ‘The art of Jan van Eyck’.

Dr Stemp gave an in-depth and incisive analysis of the ‘Arnolfini Portrait’, exploring the theme of identity from multiple angles; who were these people? What is their relationship? What is the significance of the many objects around them? Who are the people reflected in the mirror?

Most intriguingly of all, Dr Stemp made his audience question the reality of the image we see; did this room ever really exist? Did Mrs Arnolfini really look like this? Using the latest high-resolution imagery, pupils were drawn in to look closely at even the smallest aspects of the work, making clear the virtuosity of van Eyck, and encouraging this closer inspection in all works of art. Following the talk, there was a lively Q&A, with Dr Stemp commenting that the girls’ questions prompted him to also consider some new aspects of the painting. Clearly this is a work that will continue to intrigue and delight all art historians.

Ms Emma Bowen
Head of History of Art