Over to Siena in Italy. In the years 1420-1430, Stefano di Giovanni is working there, a contemporary of Van Eyck. This is his Madonna by the Rose Hedge, a large panel. Certainly when you compare it with Van Eyck's little Marian panels in this gallery. Time for a comparison. Di Giovanni depicts a sort of vision, with busy angels and lots of ornamentation. Van Eyck, on the other hand, creates especially realistic spaces -- look at the little patch of grass. The Marys of Van Eyck appear to be three-dimensional. They are women of flesh and blood. The Mary by Di Giovanni is heavenly, so to speak. And, then there is also the gold leaf, which literally depicts heaven. With Van Eyck: blue sky. Van Eyck takes noticeable distance from the current style in which Di Giovanni and many contemporaries are painting. That is also his 'revolution'. And, finally: Van Eyck paints with glossy oil paint, Di Giovanni with matte tempera. Di Giovanni and Van Eyck do share their attention to fauna, an important facet of God's creation. Look at Giovanni with the numerous birds. With Van Eyck we see, amongst other things, horses in the Ghent Altarpiece. Animals also figure in other of his works. In this gallery you see a few other Italian Marys made just before and after Van Eyck. The comparisons we have just made can also apply to these.
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!