Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Examining the Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck

The Ghent Altarpiece (Open), completed 1432. Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Saint Bavo Cathedral
© Lukas -Art in Flanders vzw

This year it became possible to zoom into the intricate, breathtaking details of one of the most important works of art in the world, thanks to a newly completed website focused on the Ghent Altarpiece.

A stunning and highly complex painting composed of separate oak panels, The Mystic Lamb of 1432 by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, known as the Ghent Altarpiece, underwent much-needed emergency conservation within the Villa Chapel in St. Bavo Cathedral in Ghent. As part of this work, the altarpiece was removed from its glass enclosure and temporarily dismantled—a rare event which also made it possible to undertake a comprehensive examination and documentation, supported by the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles.

The 20 individual panels that make up the Mystic Lamb were documented with state-of-the-art equipment using extremely high resolution.

The result is a dedicated website (http://closertovaneyck.kikirpa.be) that allows viewers unparalleled access to Van Eyck's world in breathtaking detail.

In addition, X-ray and infrared images on the website enable viewers to virtually peek under the surface and follow Van Eyck's hand from earlier underdrawing to the final painted version we see today.