An Encounter with Jan van Eyck
Elizabeth M. Rees
Book (Hardcover) 226 pp.
6 1/8 X 8 7/16"
Is the bride pregnant? Why does the groom look so old? What's reflected in the mirror? The Arnolfini Wedding is surely the most hotly debated painting of the Northern Renaissance—and one of the most beloved. In this historical novel, Elizabeth M. Rees weaves a rich story of love and honor that answers the questions about this great picture. At her first visit to the Duke's court, young Giovanna Cenami falls in love with a mysterious stranger employed by the famous Flemish painter Jan van Eyck. But Giovanna's romantic dreams are shattered when her father tells her she must marry a rich merchant to save them all from financial ruin. When she decides to pursue her own dreams, defying her family, she finds herself in grave danger of losing her reputation, her honor—and perhaps her life.
Critical Praise for The Wedding
A highly readable and entertaining work of fiction inspired by Jan Van Eyck's Northern Renaissance masterpiece, The Arnolfini Portrait. The Art Encounters series clearly owes debt to Tracey Chevalier's bestselling novel inspired by Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring (2000) and Elizabeth Borton de Trevino's Newbery-winning classic I, Juan de Parejo (based on Velazquez's slave and studio assistant). The couple in this double portrait is a fabric merchant, Giovanni di Arrigo Arnolfini, and his bride, Giovanna Cenami. Van Eyck and Arnolfini were courtiers of the Burgundian duke, Philip the Good, while Giovanna was the daughter of an Italian fabric merchant in Lyon. A page-turning, lively, historical YA romance plot spiced with a soupçon of star-crossed lovers (à la Romeo and Juliet). Along the way, readers will encounter well-integrated, fascinating information on the period as well as the materials and techniques of the painting. Helpful back matter introduces readers to the 'real' Van Eyck and suggests further reading. A strong, appealing entry in a series that is gaining momentum. (Fiction. 12+)
Henrietta Smith of School of Library and Information Science / University of South Florida / ALA’s Social Responsibility Roundtable: “Anything written in this time period captures my attention! I think the author did a masterful job of keeping the FLAVOR of the language of the time period while still keeping the prose at easily understandable level for the intended audience.”
National Christian School Association
Recommended with excellent literary merit, excellent character development, entertaining influence, high interest level, for any reading curriculum in grades 10-12: “The idea of weaving a story around a painting and its artist is wonderful. The author did a superb job…The story is compelling...Entertaining though informative regarding culture of the time period. I found it hard to put down.” – Sandra Striefelmeier, Brentwood Christian School, Austin, TX
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"Elizabeth M. Rees has a true gift for bringing art and history vividly to life. Her story kept me up until the wee hours of the night, and I didn't want to leave the 15th century when it was done!"-- Terri Windling
“Only a painter can give birth
to a painting. But Rees, a painter herself, brings Jan van Eyck's vision to life in ways few could have
imagined. Though set in 15th Century Europe, Giovanna's struggles seem both
appropriate to her time and relevant to the struggles facing American teenagers. We're not reading about someone long ago and far away, but identifying with her, breathing with her breath, turning pages anxiously to learn what will happen next.”--Rochelle Ratner, Executive Editor
American Book Review
“From glittering court balls to the streets of Bruges to the smell of paint being mixed in Jan Van Eyck’s studio, Elizabeth M. Rees’s The Wedding makes the world of 15th century Bruges come vividly alive. At the center of this tale of romance and intrigue is the wonderfully real and sympathetic 14-year-old Giovanna Cenami, who is forced to choose between allegiance to her family or an act of defiance that will allow her to follow her heart. A story as rich and textured as the painting that inspired it.”—Ellen Steiber, Author, A Rumor of Gems
Elizabeth M. Rees has published more than 50 books for middle graders and young adults. Her series include Dragonfire (under the pseudonym Morgana Rhys), Satin Slippers (under the pseudonym Elizabeth Bernard), and Heart Beats. She has published another historical novel for young adults Plainsong for Caitlin (Avon Books). A painter and visual artist, she teaches oil and acrylic painting at the JCC and the Goldman YM-YWHA in New York City, where she lives.