Customer Reviews


22 Reviews
5 star:
 (15)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a painting!
It's a small painting... and is on display at London's National Gallery in the Sainsbury Wing. I've viewed it a few times on the wall in a relatively dark corner of a room, along with other Flemish and medieval paintings. I've also seen parodies of the painting; certainly it is parodied almost as much as that other iconic picture of a couple, Grant Wood's "American...
Published on 18 Feb 2012 by Jill Meyer

versus
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
This book received glowing praise in the press, and while I am not saying that it is in any way a bad book, it doesn't deserve the extravagant praise it has got. In particular, it says very little about the picture. You can find out more from Wikipedia. Nor does the author give any opinion on where she stands on the controversies surrounding it. Her history of the...
Published on 17 Nov 2011 by emmcol


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a painting!, 18 Feb 2012
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
It's a small painting... and is on display at London's National Gallery in the Sainsbury Wing. I've viewed it a few times on the wall in a relatively dark corner of a room, along with other Flemish and medieval paintings. I've also seen parodies of the painting; certainly it is parodied almost as much as that other iconic picture of a couple, Grant Wood's "American Gothic". The painting I'm referring to is "The Arnolfini Portrait", painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434 and which is the subject of the late British art historian Carola Hicks' book, "Girl in a Green Gown".

Carola Hicks has written an almost compulsively readable book about the painting. She not only covers the painting and its subjects - the identities of whom are themselves open to conjecture - but she discusses the chain of owners of the painting. Owned by a succession of Habsburg rulers in Bruges, the picture eventually found its way to Spain when Charles V's sister - who had owned the painting - moved from Bruges to Madrid. Three centuries or so of being owned by members of the ongoing line of Habsburg, then French Bourbon, rulers, the painting was looted/taken/given (the exact details of the transfer from Spanish possession to British are a bit murky) after the Battle of Vitoria in 1813, when British forces under Wellington, defeated the Spanish/French army. A British Army officer ended up with the painting, which he eventually sold in 1842 to the British government, who were establishing a "National Gallery". The "Arnolfini" was quickly established by museum patrons and art historians as one of the Gallery's favorite paintings. Protected during two world wars, the work is now displayed, as I said, in a darkish corner of a room.

But however displayed, the "Arnolfini" continues to glow. From the green in the "bride'" gown to the red of the bed and to the more subdued colors of the "groom'" clothing, the painting is a feast to the viewer's eyes. Carola Hicks explains the details of the painting - from the colors used to the various small objects depicted. Everything in the painting had a meaning, and Hicks takes the reader back to the 15th century to explain them. The dog? The mirror with various reflections? Even the window and the importance of glass to a house of that period are explained by Hicks. Her book is not long - about 220 pages of text - but she covers everything from history to colors and dyes to mercantile trends. Her book is a wonderful look at a slice of European history from 1434 to present day. Like the painting it describes, the book is a gem.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling account of an artistic masterpiece, 14 Oct 2011
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What a wonderful book. Anyone who has viewed the 'Arnolfini Portrait' in London's National Gallery must surely have been captivated by the painting. It is one of those works which makes you want to find out who the sitters were and why they had the painting commissioned. Carola Hicks, who finished writing the book just before her death, has done a fantastic job in tracing the history of the painting and its provenance. van Eyck's skill as a painter is without question - his 'Madonna and Child with Canon Joris van der Paele' is one of my favourite paintings. But the 'Arnolfini Portrait' has always been, for me, one of the most intriguing works ever painted. Her description of the two figures in the painting in the early chapter 'Followers of Fashion' is captivating. Subsequent chapters alternate between the history/provenance of the painter and further descriptions of the painting itself. Although she is on firmer ground when discussing history I still feel her dissection of the painting forms an important counterpoint to the historical narrative. She may not have been able to resolve the mystery of the sitters but she has produced a wonderful book. Highly recommended. (Once you've read it you would find it worthwhile to read 'From Flanders to Florence' by Paula Nuttal).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 17 Nov 2011
By 
This book received glowing praise in the press, and while I am not saying that it is in any way a bad book, it doesn't deserve the extravagant praise it has got. In particular, it says very little about the picture. You can find out more from Wikipedia. Nor does the author give any opinion on where she stands on the controversies surrounding it. Her history of the picture's reception is the most interesting part of the book, but the problem is, most of the book is taken up with the lives and circumstances of the picture's owners. And when this descends into the dynastic politics of the 16th and 17th centuries, frankly you have to be pretty committed not to skip the numerous pages devoted to this. Even the description of the Peninsular War, which is somewhat more lively, is not exactly gripping.
I hope and presume the author wasn't responsible for the title. (She says herself that the woman -- and no way is she a 'girl' -- seems to be a standard 15th century portrait based on no one in particular; it's the man who's individual and interesting, and it's the symmetry that makes the picture.)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shallow book, no enlarged illustrations, 9 Dec 2011
The book may be of use as a shallow (yet well written) introduction. It tries to cover both history and art history in 200 odd pages and the result is shallow- unavoidably, in my opinion. Amazingly, the colour illustrations don't contain even one enlarged detail from the painting. This gross negligence means you read endless, minute verbal descriptions of the painting without being able to see the details, not even one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction for the non specialist, 10 April 2013
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is split into two. A chapter on specific aspects of the so called 'Arnolfini Portrait' itself. Then a chapter on the people who owned it and chapters at the end on 19th century controversies surrounding the painting i,e. who were the couple depicted? The written style is straight forward with little, if any, 'modern university critical verbiage'.

I leaned a lot about the painting, for example how it got into the National Gallery in London. Along the way you also find out how a great painting becomes 'great'. There is a lot of historical background which I enjoyed but I can understand the reviewers who found it a bit wearisome.The book itself is quite short although the final chapter does have a tacked on feel. I presume this was because the author had not fully completed this section at the time of her death.To me it did come over that the book was a labour of love.

I read the Kindle edition which was well formatted with notes and a comprehensive bibliography but the pictures were not great although probably no worse , from what some of the reviewers have mentioned, than that of the paper book.

Overall the book did make me see the painting with new eyes and make me want to see the real one again.

I would have liked to have given this book 4 1/2 stars but as this is not possible I have given 4 stars. Although I read it with pleasure I cannot honestly say it was truly great book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Girl in a Green Gown, 1 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I liked it mainly for the meticulous way Carola Hicks analyses every minute part of the painting. However, I found some of the passages describing the various owners rather too detailed and tedious.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Girl in a Green Gown, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait (Paperback)
A book I'm glad to have and lend to friends. It was recommended to me and I shall recommend it to others.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read, 26 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A pick up and put down read, quite fascinating, going to visit Bruges on the strength of it, so much interesting information gleaned.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book about a gem of medieval art, 29 Jan 2014
By 
N Saker (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait (Paperback)
The saying goes 'if walls could talk' well if paintings could talk! The stories this one could tell and reveal. Carola Hicks takes us on a journey interspersing a detailed but interesting discussion of the painting and its possible meaning with the story of its almost 600 year life. As it passed from owner to owner, Carola Hicks reveals the many layers of meaning the painting has taken on for each successive generation. This book is not only about the painting but its a potted history of everything from the Hapsburg rulers, to the story of the Low Countries, from the creation of a new Spanish Napoleonic King to the rivalry between 20th century Directors of London's National Gallery. A delightful book which I read in 2 days, and on day 3 I'm off to gaze at the painting to see if it speaks to me!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Good, 25 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good book on a painting I have seen but gives a lot of insight, context and history around and about the painting
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait
7.69
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews