This work is a portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, but is not intended as a record of their wedding. His wife is not pregnant, as is often thought, but holding up her full-skirted dress in the contemporary fashion. Arnolfini was a member of a merchant family from Lucca living in Bruges. The couple are shown in a well-appointed interior.
The ornate Latin signature translates as ‘Jan van Eyck was here 1434’. The similarity to modern graffiti is not accidental. Van Eyck often inscribed his pictures in a witty way. The mirror reflects two figures in the doorway. One may be the painter himself. Arnolfini raises his right hand as he faces them, perhaps as a greeting.
Van Eyck was intensely interested in the effects of light: oil paint allowed him to depict it with great subtlety in this picture, notably on the gleaming brass chandelier.
Anthony Sargeant bought this charming impressionistic landscape at auction. It is an oil on canvas laid on board and measures approximately 35 by 45cm. The artist was born in Broxburn. He lived in Edinburgh and painted landscape and coastal views. He studied at the Edinburgh School of Design and later in Paris and at Barbizon. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1889, the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.
This wonderful painting by Vermeer is part of the collection in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Anthony J Sargeant saw it many times while he was living in The Netherlands (1985-1996). It is quite a small painting but quite exquisite. The subject is a domestic scene typical of Vermeer. It is impossible to describe the tranquility and warmth and beauty of the painting. Just look at the balance of colour with the blue of the tablecloth and the Maid’s apron anchoring the base of the painting, and ‘hear’ the milk being poured
A limited edition collotype published in L’Estampe Moderne 1897-99 in the collection of Anthony Sargeant. L’Estampe Moderne appeared in 1897-1899 as a series of 24 monthly instalments each of 4 original lithographs, priced at 3 francs 50 centimes and printed by Imprimerie Champenois of Paris. Many accomplished European painters contributed works to this publication. The richly lithographed prints had as blind stamp or embossed device, the imprint of a young woman’s profile in the lower right corner (see below).
Anthony Sargeant and his partner drove down through Europe in an Austin A35 van and ended up here in Sibenik on the Adriatic coast of what was then Yugoslavia ruled by Tito. This photograph was taken on a small wooded resort island just of the coast of Sibenik where small ferry boats took holiday makers to enjoy the sun and the sea. Šibenik is a city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s known as a gateway to the Kornati Islands. The 15th-century stone Cathedral of St. James is decorated with 71 sculpted faces. Nearby, the Šibenik City Museum, in the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, has exhibits ranging from prehistory to the present. The white stone St. Michael’s Fortress has an open-air theater, with views of Šibenik Bay and neighboring islands.
In 1940-50s South-London there were few washing machines. The mother of Anthony Sargeant did not have one but she did have a cast-iron mangle such as this which was housed in the shed at the bottom of the garden. The shed was in fact a re-purposed corrugated iron from a WW2 Anderson bomb shelter. All laundry was done in a large heated copper boiler in the kitchen using a thick wooden pole to stir it around (the thick pole rather like a metre long broom handle also had another use – it was sometimes used to whack Tony when his Mother deemed him to have misbehaved). Heavily soiled pieces of laundry were additionally rubbed on a washing board at the large ceramic sink in the kitchen. After rinsing out the soapy water in the sink the wet laundry was carried up the garden and put through the the wooden rollers of the mangle to squeeze out as much water as possible. The washing was then pegged out along the clothes line which ran the length of the garden. This was not advisable if the wind was coming from the direction of the local gasworks which was less than half a mile away, because at certain stages of the manufacture of Town Gas the coking ovens door would be opened and the wind would carry sooty smuts across the neighbourhood.