Gillian Tindall

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait


Chatto & Windus 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The picture we have come to call the Arnolfini Portrait is one of the best known, best loved, and most reproduced, copied, satirised and speculated upon in the world. Painted in Bruges by Jan van Eyck in 1434 (the inscription on the wall above a central, round mirror is generally agreed to testify to that), it shows a big-hatted, long-nosed man who resembles a revered doctor or the Mad Hatter according to the eye of the viewer. He is apparently making some kind of vow with his raised right hand while with his left he holds the hand of a girl in a wimple and a voluminous green gown, who may either be pregnant or just a fashionable, late medieval shape.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'To be clever without wanting to glory in it, put dimmer people down or make an act of covering it up (viz Boris Jo… ,
    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,