Wedded Bliss – Art History Competition Winning Entry

The first painting Mr. and Mrs. Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough, painted in 1750, represents a countryside life. It’s clear that the married couple probably had an arranged marriage as they are not looking at each other and are not sitting together. They probably come from wealthy families. We can tell this by the way they are dressed. They are trying to show off their wealth by sitting on a bench from which you can see their whole property. This is why this painting is so important as it combines people and countryside.

Mrs. Andrews is holding what looks like a piece of paper and a feathered pen. This signifies she is educated.

Mr. Andrews is holding a rifle and has a dog standing at his side and looking at him showing loyalty. It may be his hunting dog. I wonder if Mrs. Andrews agrees and participates to his hunting activity as she looks very composed and still, while he is more relaxed. Also, she looks paler than him which  means she stays at home most of the time and she is not exposed to the sun. Mrs. Andrews is turned towards the bright side of the painting, while Mr. Andrews in on the darker side, which signifies Gainsborough thought very highly of her. It’s clear not only from the last name but also from the landscape that the scene is settled in England.


The second painting, The Arnolfini marriage by Van Eyck, is older as it was painted in 1434. It represents the Arnolfini couple in a bedroom with their dog.

By the last name he seems Italian but the room could be situated in any part of the world. It could be in Bruges, Belgium as the painter is from that area.

They look very rich because of the way they are dressed even though she’s not wearing much jewellery.  The room itself has signs of wealth as it has a large bed, a mirror, a chandelier, a carpet and big windows.

Mr. Arnolfini is wearing a fur coat which shows he must have a high power in society. Mrs. Arnolfini is pregnant and she looks very young while her husband looks older. They are holding hands which signifies love and she has one hand on top of her future baby and he has a hand up to show protection. They have a dog standing at their feet which means they must have been together for some time as it looks like they are sharing the pet. The painting is very detailed as if you look in the mirror, you can see three figures: the couple from the back and the painter himself.


The third and last painting, Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy, was painted in 1971. While in the other paintings the man is on the left and the wife is on the right, in this one they are the other way round. It is situated in England by the type of house they are in as it has a particular balcony, the room is plain and modern with little furniture but everything is very detail therefore expensive. It looks like they just moved into the house  The couple is not looking at one another, which could mean they are not fully committed to one another. Also, Mr. Clark has a very casual look while Mrs. Clark is dressed very elegantly. Mr. Clark seems to be smoking while having a cat on his lap and I think his wife doesn’t approve him smoking as she looks away from him with a disappointed expression.

Clearly they are both looking at the painter and he is very relaxed about the situation he is in as he is sitting and hunched back while she has a straight posture and is standing still with her hands on her hips to show annoyance, disapproval and dominance.


If I had to describe there paintings in two words i would say the first painting shows an “Arranged Marriage”, the second one a “Love Marriage” and the third one “Almost Divorced”.

By Elena, Year 9

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