Painted in 1434 by Jan van Eyck, it remains one of the best known and beloved paintings in the world. But what does it really mean? Is there a secret meaning encoded in this portrait of a prosperous merchant and his well dressed, possibly pregnant, wife? Is it a memorial to a beloved wife lost in childbirth? Or is it merely a status symbol showing off the luxury garb and goods this upper middle-class couple have acquired?
This book endeavors to answer all these questions, with chapters discussing the various elements that make up the portrait like the fine clothes, furniture, the dog, prayer beads, and oranges. It also traces the history of the portrait from creation down through the hands of its various owners.
This is a fascinating book about a portrait that has always intrigued me. Sadly the author died of a cerebral hemorrhage just after finishing the first draft of this book. Her husband lovingly put the finishing touches on it for her. Ms. Hicks has also written books about stained glass during the Tudor era and a history of the Bayeux Tapestry. I am so sorry that there will be no more books from this talented author who made art history enjoyable and accessible to ordinary readers like me.