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Master of Realism: Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait

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Despite being 'one of the towering figures in the history of art', Jan van Eyck is a painter 'about whom the vital facts are almost all missing.'Very little is known about the man himself, his motivations, or indeed the people he painted in his iconic work The Arnolfini Portrait (1434). Although small in size, the painting is rich in detail and is championed as one of 'the most stunning pieces of illusionistic realism' in Western art, that influenced generations of artists.

Join critic and writer Martin Gayford as he presents some of the mysteries that lie behind van Eyck's masterpiece, introducing the symbols which have enticed generations of art sleuths to puzzle over the work, in search of the definitive answers.

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Martin Gayford studied philosophy at Cambridge, and art history at the Courtauld Institute of London University. He has written prolifically about art and jazz, contributing regularly to the Daily Telegraph and also to many art magazines and exhibition catalogues. He was art critic of the Spectator 1994-2002 and subsequently of the Sunday Telegraph before becoming chief art critic for Bloomberg News until 2013. He is now once again art critic for the Spectator.

His book about Van Gogh and Gauguin in Arles, The Yellow House (2005) was published in Britain and the USA to critical acclaim, and has been translated to date into five languages.

Constable in Love, a study of John Constable's romance with Maria Bicknell, and their lives between 1809 and 1816 was published in 2009; he was also co-curator with Anne Lyles of the exhibition 'John Constable Portraits' at the National Portrait Gallery and Compton Verney in 2009.

His portrait by Lucian Freud, Man with a Blue Scarf (2005) has been exhibited at the Correr Museum, Venice and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His book about posing for Lucian Freud, also entitled Man with a Blue Scarf, appeared in 2010.

*A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney *was published in September 2011, and was followed by *Michelangelo: His Epic Life *in 2013, *Rendez-vous with Art *in 2014, and co-authored with Philippe de Montebello, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

*A History of Pictures: From Cave to Computer Screen *was also co-authored with David Hockney, and was followed by *Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney & the London Painters *in April 2018.

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