5. Michiel Cocxie, Ghent Altarpiece (partially)

You are looking at a copy of a parts of Van Eyck’s world-renowned Ghent Altarpiece. These panels are visible when the polyptych is opened. They are thus the interior panels. Shortly, you will be able to admire all of the exterior panels of the original. The copy is by Michiel Cocxie, a premier painter of his time. He paints the panels at the place where Van Eyck’s original Ghent Altarpiece is hanging: in the Vijd Chapel of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. Cocxie’s work dates from the 1550s, some 120 years after the original. He alters things a little bit here and there. Look, for example, at the panel with the so-called ‘Soldiers of the Faith’, the third panel from the left. There, Cocxie adds the portraits of Charles V and Philip II, and even a self-portrait: in the back left, the painter looks penetratingly at us. In the figure with the beard to the right we recognise Charles V, and again to the right of him, his son, Phillip II. Phillip, the Spanish king, commissioned Michiel Cocxie to create this copy of the Ghent Altarpiece. He absolutely wanted to have the masterpiece for himself, a fine illustration of its fame. Curious as to what the main theme of the Ghent Altarpiece is? Then press the A-button. We advise you to do this, keeping in mind the continuation of the exhibition.


Press play to start the audio from the beginning

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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  • Gent Belgium
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