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Only the privileged few were able to see their own faces.The string of amber beads to the left of the mirror is a paternoster – a form of rosary, produced in Bruges.It has become a symbol of marriage, yet the identity of the couple and the meaning of the scene are still uncertain.Art historian Among the foreign merchants living in prosperous 15th-century Bruges were members of the Arnolfini clan from Lucca in Italy.This is what guests would have expected to see in a reception room.It may not have been used for sleeping in, but implied that the master of the house was of sufficiently high status to exhibit such a possession as an adornment.The diptych was probably commissioned for private devotion. It shows Christ's followers grieving in the foreground, soldiers and spectators milling about in the mid-ground and a portrayal of three crucified bodies in the upper-ground.The scene is framed against an azure sky with a view of Jerusalem in the distance.
Also, the figure carved on the chair behind the woman is St Margaret, patron saint of childbirth.
It is lined with squirrel fur, perhaps as many as 2,000 skins.
The most prestigious fur was sable, reserved for royalty and aristocracy.
This diptych is one of the early Northern Renaissance oil on panel masterpieces, renowned for its unusually complex and highly detailed iconography, and for the technical skill evident in its completion.
It was executed in a miniature format; the panels are just 56.5 cm (22.2 in) high by 19.7 cm (7.8 in) wide.The brush, hanging to the right of the mirror, represents the industry and humility of Christ’s mother – suggesting the Flemish tradition of showing biblical characters in modern settings.