The Renaissance period was a revolutionary phenomenon that changed the medieval worldview and opened a new chapter in history. The development of the urban environment enabled the creation of a whole new class of artisans who worked in guilds and were commissioned by wealthy patrons, whether nobles or clergymen. The rapidly flourishing economic and social environments, such as the Flemish countries, promoted a generation of skillful and well-trained artisans who eventually became the internationally recognized leading artists of their time. [1
In order to thoroughly demonstrate the entire talent and ability of this unprecedented master, the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent decided to organize an extensive survey entitled Van Eyck. An optical revolution with its best-known works of art such as the Ghent Altarpiece . On display are further memorable paintings, drawings and memorabilia and a selection of works by van Eyck's contemporaries and various artisans .
The paintings by Van Eyck: The restored altarpiece from Ghent
The focus of the presentation of Ghent is eight outer panels of the closed Ghent altarpiece by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck in 1432. The panels were restored between 2012 and 2016 managed by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage and the museum. Before the restoration, the Gent Altarpiece was perceived as an independent production within Jan van Eyck's iconic oeuvre.
Nowadays it is obvious that the restored panels are similar to his other works when it comes to style and color. However, the original frames of the polyptych say that the Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert van Eyck was started, but his contribution to the outer panels of the work remained undetermined. Nevertheless, the restoration was a success and the removal of old layers of paint and overpainted parts showed the full shine of the original masterpiece .
The Gent Tranche
The large tranche will extend over thirteen museum rooms and begin with a sketch of the luxurious Burgundian court life in order to bring the historical context and the facts closer to the visitors Eyck appeared as court painter to Philip the Good (1396-1467), the Burgundian duke and patron of the arts. In addition, this chapter of the exhibition will underline the fruitful exchange of crafts between cities such as Ghent and Bruges (19459007) and the climate for the van Eyck revolution (19659002). to delve deeper into his creative development and to better understand his optical revolution with a selection of one hundred and forty panel paintings, miniatures, drawings and sculptures . Three levels of his engagement are highlighted – his oil painting technique, his observation of the world and his painting of optical effects .
In order to emphasize the importance of the optical revolution of the master in a broader context In addition to van Eyck's works, a selection of important loans from international collections by his contemporaries most of which are Italians: Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli, Masaccio and Pisanello. Unlike van Eyck, who worked with oils, the Italians used egg-based tempera, and while he successfully carried out his innovations, they experimented with space and a mathematical perspective.
Developments in both the Flemish and Italian context influenced the shift in the painterly paradigm the fact that they are presented together provides an incredible opportunity to better understand their historical meaning.
The optical revolution by Van Eyck in Ghent
This exhibition of Van Eyck paintings in Ghent is the development of the painterly practice of the artist and the immense focus on details that led to his art, practically underline style to perfection. Such extraordinary hand and eye coordination made him one of the most popular painters of his time, an intellectual of this kind and an innovator whose fields were still admired after so many centuries .
It is important to mention that this comprehensive survey is part of the Flemish Master’s program organized by Tourism Flanders, which supported the project and would not be possible without the help of the city of Ghent in an organizational and infrastructural sense. The exhibition also announces the beginning of the city festival OMG! Van Eyck who will honor his most famous master in 2020.
Van Eyck. An optical revolution will be exhibited from February 1 to April 30, 2020 in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent . Don't miss the accompanying publication, which will be published shortly.
Below you will find brief descriptions of five first-class Jan van Eyck paintings that are shown in this unique retrospective.
Selected pictures: Van Eyck: An optical revolution – installation view with Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Ghent altarpiece (John the Baptist and the Evangelist), 1432 (St. Bavo Cathedral Gent). All pictures at MSK Gent, photography by David Levene.