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Portrait of Margareta van Eyck

Jan van Eyck
25 cm x 32.6 cm
Inventory number: 
Groeninge Museum Bruges
Category A: Flemish primitives
15th century Portraits

The inscription on the original marbled framework of this work identifies the woman in the portrait as the wife of the painter, Margareta van Eyck. In translation, the inscription declares in trompe-l’oeil: “my husband John completed me in the year 1439 on 15 June/ I was thirty-three years old.” It is followed by Jan van Eyck’s motto “Als ich can” (as I can). The portrait stands out because of the difference in scale between the trunk and head. Margareta is near the light source, a window that is mirrored in her eyes, and she turns and looks at the viewer. Her hair is done up in a fashionable way in two small horns that are held together by hairnets in chequered motifs. Over this lies a linen veil. She wears a red over garment trimmed in squirrel fur that is bound up high with a broad belt. The portrayed one places her hands on top of each other. On the right hand, she is wearing a ring.