7. Van Eyck, Adam and Eve (Ghent Altarpiece)

A combination of realism, illusion and symbolism. That is the crux of the new art of painting from the years 1420-1430 in the Netherlands. The brothers Van Eyck, primarily Jan van Eyck, play a chief role in this. What they are painting is an illusion: at the same time life-like and almost real. Their work is full of Christian symbolism. Adam and Eve, two interior panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, illustrate this perfectly. These are the first monumental painted nudes ever created north of the Alps. Van Eyck had a strong influence on the painting of nudes. You will also discover that in this gallery. These are humans of flesh and blood. Life-like, exposed, serene. They shamefully cover their nakedness and they are painted with virtuosity: look at the wrinkles, the details of the hair, the veins... at Adam’s slightly opened mouth. It’s as if he is about to start speaking. These first people almost literally step into our world: look at Adam’s right foot. Above their heads the first murder from the Bible is occurring, that of Cain killing his brother Abel. Adam and Eve stand at the beginning of the Christian story that the Ghent Altarpiece brings to life: because of their Original Sin in the Garden of Eden, Heaven is closed to humans. The forbidden fruit of which Eve shall shortly take a bite is the cause of all Evil. Up until Christ sacrifices himself to redeem their sin. As does the Ghent Altarpiece. Finally, take a look at the rear side. These are also panels from the Ghent Altarpiece. They have recently been restored and show the hand of the true Jan van Eyck. Adam and Eve are still waiting for their restoration...You can read more on the wall text about what you see on the back.

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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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