humanities questions about art comparisons

TWO ITEMS SELECTED–Select twoof these three to discuss:ona)symbols and the Van Eyck double portrait; orb)one on three artists–Bosch, Grunewald, or Durer, orc)one about the soliloquies of Hamlet.

Select twoof these three to discuss:

Chapter 19 (pages 640-64_001.pdf

Chapter 16(540-543)_001.pdf

Chapter 16 (pages 546-55_001.pdf



A)Look at the painting illustrated on p. 542, the Van EyckArnolfinidouble portrait.Using pp. 542-3 and the EXPLORE website with Koster’s article as helps, identify and explaintwo symbolic elements of the painting and any other features that stand out to you. Pretend you are having a portrait done of you and a significant other; describe at least four symbolic elements that you might include in the painting, and explain why.

B)Review carefully pp. 546-556, looking at the art works of Bosch, Grunewald, and Durer, and reading the explanations of each.Select the work you like best and explain it in 3 or 4 sentences, and then also state why you appreciate that one the most.

C)Read the two soliloquies fromHamletin our text on pp. 642-643.Consider the extent to which you sympathize with him and/or think he is self-absorbed. Explain the manner in which the literary form of soliloquy shapes your view of Hamlet. Identify one (1) or two (2) lines (except “To be, or not to be”) that you find interesting or favor, and explain your choice. Compare this to any modern leader who has faced a crisis.

ONE ISSUE DISCUSSED:This is an exercise in reading comprehension and critical reasoning about the Van Eyck painting (fig. 16.7; p. 542).Sayre, in our class text (pp. 542-3), gives the conventional theory that this is a couple exchanging marriage vows before witnesses.Koster, in her article (see under EXPLORE), says that is not a wedding or betrothal; it is a posthumous painting of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his late wife, Costanza Arnolfini commemorating and celebrating their relationship.Review each theory.Which do you find most persuasive?What is the strength of your chosen theory and what is a key weakness of the one you did not select?Why are they so white?Explain the problem of her “pregnant” look and give your thoughts on the matter, or discuss the mirror (fig. 16.7 and fig. 16.8) and its function.


Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait; Koster and Sayre; three “northern ” artists

  • Henry Sayre’s interpretation in Chapter 16, (pp. 540-3, Figs. 16.7-8)
  • Margaret Koster’s interpretation at
  • Sayre, chap. 16 (pp. 546-556)–Bosch, Grunewald, Durer


  • Chapter 19 (pp. 640-644), selections 19.11a and 19.11b. Soliloquy defined on p. 648


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