10 April 1521. The renowned German artist Albrecht Dürer is standing before the Ghent Altarpiece. That is what you are seeing here. The polyptych had been around for about 90 years. A priest is explaining it to Dürer. Afterwards, he writes in his travel report: “An extraordinarily beautiful and well-executed painting, in particular Eve, Mary and God the Father are extremely good. Moreover, Ghent is pretty and it is a wonderful city”. End of quote. The fame of the Ghent Altarpiece is enormous around 1520. The painting depicting Dürer’s visit dates from…about 1840! More than three hundred years later! Van Eyck and the other Flemish Primitives, a concept that comes in use at that time, become gradually re-appreciated in the nascent Belgium of the 19th century, as well as in Ghent. We say “re-appreciated”, because in the years before 1840, the international interest is rather tepid: well done, perfect technique, but too realistic, too descriptive is the judgement. Ruben’s dynamic Baroque has more fans. Primarily in Germany there are Van Eyck admirers around 1800. The admiration since that time has only increased. World-wide. Up to the present day. But just stepping back a moment in time: already immediately in the 15th century and into the 1500s, many authors celebrate Jan van Eyck. The books in the middle of this gallery contain examples of this recognition Press the A-button to hear more about this.
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!