Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type





Kimberly Dennis

Second Advisor

Ena Heller

Third Advisor

Robert Vander Poppen


This paper examines the intricate and interrelated relationships among Giovanni Arnolfini, Jan van Eyck, and Duke Philip the Good through the analysis of conspicuous consumption, political networking, mercantile trade, and economic authority. Arnolfini sought to emulate Duke Philip the Good and construct a visual representation of his new social identity as a member of the court. Arnolfini used the portrait and his connections to the court painter, to display his material culture and increase his position in society. The material objects of wealth displayed throughout demonstrate Arnolfini’s skill and capability as a merchant, while the religious symbolism reinforces his trustworthiness and piety. By picturing Giovanni with Giovanna, their marriage reflects a durable and united relationship that potential business partners could expect from the couple.


The Fourth Advisor and final committee member was Dr. Hannah Ewing.