4. Philip the Good and Isabella of Portugal

This Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, comes into power in 1419. He unites the Low Countries, which account for some 2 million people. His court travels in cities throughout the Low Countries, such as Lille, Mechelen, Ghent and Bruges. There are about a thousand people connected to that court, and art and culture are very important there. Jan van Eyck and his colleagues reap the benefits from this situation. The commissions are pouring in. Master Jan van Eyck becomes court painter in 1425. And, he gains the confidence of this Philip the Good. Being a ‘Court painter,’ means that Van Eyck has to be available for a number of consignments as well as for diplomatic, and sometimes secret journeys. For certain he travels to Spain and Portugal in this capacity. There he paints Isabella of Portugal, Philip’s future wife. You see her here next to her husband. Van Eyck is thus intimately familiar with the absolute centre of power. At the same time he continues to work for other clients, such as members of the nobility and clergymen. He also works for Joos Vijd and Elisabeth Borluut, the wealthy Ghent couple that orders the Ghent Altarpiece from the Van Eyck brothers. “I shall never find a second Van Eyck” asserts Philip the good. Is Jan van Eyck a unique genius? A flash of lightning from Heaven, as some people claim, especially in the 19th century? A miracle even? If you press the A button, then you will hear more about this. In a moment, on our video wall, experts will introduce you to Jan van Eyck and his work.


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Museum of Fine Arts Ghent

On February 1st 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent opened the largest Jan van Eyck exhibition in history: 'Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution'. Half of his oeuvre travelled to Ghent, where it was brought together with work from Van Eyck's studio, copies of paintings that have since disappeared and more than 100 masterpieces from the late Middle Ages. Due to the precautions taken against the further spread of COVID-19, the internationally acclaimed exhibition is unfortunately currently closed. Therefore, we would like to make the audio guide belonging to the exhibition available online. In this way the listener can still get a little closer to the work of the master. Have fun listening!


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