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Home >> Artists >> Jan van Eyck

Jan van Eyck

Jan van Eyck

is a Flemish painter credited with having mastered the art of oil painting.

Between 1422 and 1424, he was employed at the court of the Count of Holland, John of Bavaria. In 1425, he became court painter and valet de chambre to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy. During this period, Jan van Eyck painted two portraits of Isabella of Portugal whom Philip wished to marry.

Apart from portraits, van Eyck also painted religious subjects. One of his most famous and controversial works is the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) in the Church of St Bavo, Ghent, Belgium. There is a lot of debate regarding who the artist of this work is, as the Latin inscription on the frame identifies both Jan and a certain Hubert. One interpretation identifies Hubert as Jan’s brother, and another, as the sculptor of the frame of the altar. The painting by itself depicts Jodocus Vijdt, the donor, and his wife kneeling on either side of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. The interior is dominated by the representation of the Adoration of the Holy Lamb.

Jan van Eyck’s other famous paintings are
  • The wedding portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife (1434; National Gallery, London).
  • The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin (1433-34 Louvre, Paris).
  • The Madonna of Canon van der Paele (1436; Groeninge Museum, Bruges).
  • Portraits of his wife, Margaret.
  • A self-portrait, Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban (London, National Gallery).

This Flemish painter used the medium of oil expertly. He glazed over painted jewels and precious metals to give them an iridescent glow. He developed a stable varnish with linseed and nut oil mixed with resin. He paid great attention to detail, thus showing as infallible recreations of architectural interiors and landscapes.

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