Mirror Closure of the Lost Mirror by Jan van Eyck

By the way, I finally received a copy of the alleged copy of the painting by Van Eyck, so called “Bathing Woman with a Mirror“. It took just six months, but at the end the Harvard Art Museum managed to send me a file with a HUGE copy of this work (it’s several times larger than the copies of the GoogleArtProject). Long process, yes, but it’s free.

According to my agreement with the museum, I have to credit them and their efforts when using this image:

Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Francis H. Burr, Louise Haskell Daly,
Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing and William M. Prichard Funds, 1969.83
Photo: Imaging Department C President and Fellows of Harvard College

And yes, I am now officially proclaimed “a prominent researcher of mirrors in art”, whether you like it or not. Need to reflect on that fact.

To work with large copies is, of course, a great pleasure, one could see literally everything! On the other hand, they also instantly disillusion you – at least it has happened in my case 😦

To start with, this is the image as is (it’s of course much smaller copy):

By now I am inclined to think that if such painting by van Eyck existed, it was most likely depicting one of the bathing Bathshebas (see the one by Hans Memling (1485) for comparison):


What remains to be done is find the watchful eye of Kind David somewhere in a dark corner:

But all my speculations about the “skull in the mirror” have been completely ruined; no skull whatsoever:

And whatever photoshop ‘spell’ I applied, the result is still the same, we see just a heavily damaged piece of painting:

As for my other suggestion, that something is wrong with the way her arms are painted, everything is still confused here.

Visually, her left arm in the reflection (that corresponds to the right one in “real life” of the painting) is covering her private parts (more precisely, it covers the cloth that covers it.) But it is theoretically possible to imagine that this (left) hand is positioned somehow apart from her body in the mirror too – but when we look at it, it blends with the body.

In the “real world” the arms somehow hangs over the basin; in the reflection we do not see anything similar; if we wouldn’t have the ‘real situation’ depicted next to it, we wouldn’t be able to guess.  Was it a very tricky idea, to show the hand covering in the reflection, but un-covering in the real life? Or was it just a lack of skills? These things,  unfortunately, even the hyper-large file does not help to answer.


PS: I later found an informative piece about this work, that also includes a number of interpretations of its meaning – see Mulier Lavans ~ early 16th Century (although technically speaking it’s 15th century).



3 thoughts on “Mirror Closure of the Lost Mirror by Jan van Eyck

  1. Pingback: Mulier Lavans ~ early 16th Century

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