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Arnolfini Portrait - Terrier? Maybe a Cairn?


Newman
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Hey guys,

 

In Art class today, we discussed this photo:

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Van_Eyck_-_Arnolfini_Portrait.jpg

 

As you can see at the bottom, it definitely looks like a terrier of some sort. I am actually inclined to say this was one of the first/early versions of a Cairn Terrier. You can tell by how the ears are shaped and pointed. Not only that, but the brindle color and tail aswell.  

 

In any event. The professor asked what could the dog represent? I said: Happiness (Because you know, Cairns are just so happy and wild), and the professor said nop, it's supposed to represent loyalty. Which I guess I could see that too. But seeing a dog that looks like it can be the first/earliest versions of the Cairn Terrier, is very fascinating. It made me extremely happy. Remember, this picture was dated in 1434 by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck.

Edited by Newman
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Oh what a beautiful painting, and such a cute little dog.  

 

I like your interpretation of happiness rather than your professor's.  Art can be whatever you want it to be.

Edited by Tuesday
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What a lovely dog, very nice painting indeed.  I too think that happiness is a much better interpretation, as the dog in the painting looks happy and looks very much like a Cairn Terrier.

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I've looked at this painting before but never really looked at the dog. Sure looks like a cairn. Thanks for sharing Newman. How's that Fonzy doing?

I think there's no one way to interpret a painting. This little guy will surely be a loyal friend but but also a fun companion I think.

Some think this dog is a forerunner of the Brussels Griffon developed in Belgium. Can have rough or smooth coat. 

Edited by Hillscreek
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I like your interpretation, Newman and I'm sure most cairn owners would agree. (I'll bet the professor never owned… or even met a cairn)!

 

Not to sound too pedantic, I expect that the professor explained that most of Van Eyck's paintings were filled with objects that were assigned symbolic meanings of that era, (the emoticons of that time)? I'm guessing that the household pet dog symbolized "faithfulness" of this couples marriage, but again, I like your interpretation better!

 

(Attached is a version of this painting, showing a more typical cairn)? :lol:

 

post-896-0-90424400-1421257822_thumb.jpg

Edited by sanford
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FEAR THE CAIRN!

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ooh, good call. i've seen the painting a dozen times and never noticed the dog. if comes from the same ancestry as cairns, for sure! personally i would say the dog represents prosperity (like most of the things in these paintings) --he is there to keep the vermin out of the kitchen and the store-rooms. the mice and rats run to where the stuff is (also a big folk theme for europeans of the time), and the terrier is there to protect the property. nobody is more zealous in their work than a terrier. so it is prosperity, health, and a zealous desire to protect the same. but for europeans of the time prosperity and happness were the same, so i'm sure you're right, too. loyalty sounds like a terrible answer --we know our cairns are all loyal, but you wouldn't use a terrier to represent that in a painting.  

 

This is my favorite painting of a woman with a "loyal" dog. Franz Floris.

post-2750-0-35737200-1421523712_thumb.jp

Edited by pkcrossley
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I like your interpretation, Newman and I'm sure most cairn owners would agree. (I'll bet the professor never owned… or even met a cairn)!

 

Not to sound too pedantic, I expect that the professor explained that most of Van Eyck's paintings were filled with objects that were assigned symbolic meanings of that era, (the emoticons of that time)? I'm guessing that the household pet dog symbolized "faithfulness" of this couples marriage, but again, I like your interpretation better!

 

(Attached is a version of this painting, showing a more typical cairn)? :lol:

 

 

Yeah, he explained every single thing from the icons around the mirror on the wall, to the apple on the window seal. Our professor said it's an apple and oranges below. I cannot really tell to be honest :(. He literally talked for 2 hours on this specific painting. Well, our class participated too.

 

When he showed the picture on the projector, I couldn't really see the stance of the dog. It didn't look like the dog was in a 'royal stance'. It looked like the dog was in a playful stance. However, upon closer inspection (when I looked at the photo at home), I can definitely see how the dog can be portrayed as being loyall.

 

The issue I have with our professor is:

He said that every object on these types of paintings mean something. If the author wanted to depict the dog of being 'loyal', I (personally) would of thought he would purposefully draw a dog in this type of position:

labrador-retrievers.jpg

 

That to me, is a loyal stance. I still believe that dog in this photo represents happiness. Especially because I think it's a Cairn Terrier (or some type of terrier), and they're wildier than a billy goat. I even told the professor (or tried to) say, well that breed is known to be CRAZY happy, but he didn't listen nor care. I think it's funny because he talks about the story behind every object on all the paintings ALL the time, but once a student tries to say something about something, he won't listen.  I believe he is very arrogant, or maybe I am just wrong,  I have no idea. 

 

But looking back and knowing terriers and cairns, that stance to me anyways, shows that dog wants to play.  Sure, the dog is loyal, but if the author wanted to depict loyalty I am 99% positive he would of drew that dog with a difference stance. (Similar to the photo I posted above).

 

Anyways, enough of me ranting at my professor, lol. Thanks guys for your comments, Fonzyy is doing great. He is still wilder than a billy goat.

Edited by Newman
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To me painting like other art forms are what you personally get out of them. If you Newman find that the dog represents happiness, then that's what it means. :)

Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie

 

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yes, newman, i see what you mean about the posture and the symbolism. the little terrier in the arnolfini painting is not looking at the people and really doesn't seem care whether they are there or not (now i'm sure it's a cairn). a "loyal" dog is usually depicted as looking toward the master or sort of inclining toward the master if seated. nothing about this little dog does that. your "happiness" explanation is much better than "loyalty." 

Edited by pkcrossley
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On a much lighter note, the man in the picture could do with a bit happiness himself! :)

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Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie

 

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i'd love to see a parody of this painting with only one little change --the smart wooden sandals in the lower left corner need to show the marks of enthusiastic terrier modification. then we'll know why the dog is the only one smiling in the picture. 

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I think the wife is asking for the credit card :kiss:.  The man's expression says "Here goes the budget :mad:  "  The dog, a Cairn for sure, says "Hurry up and go to the store so I can get on the bed."

Edited by Malcolm's Dad
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Newman what do you think of this picture? Must be a Cairn, soaking up all the attention.:)

post-4010-0-39556700-1421679530_thumb.jp

Until one has loved an animal, a part of  one's soul remains unawakened.  - Anatole France

Adventures with Sam &Rosie

 

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