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Hubert van Eyck
 

The Ghent Altarpiece

1432

by Hubert and Jan van EYCK

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Gothic and Early Renaissance
 
 
 
Van Eyck

Netherlandish family of artists. The brothers Hubert van Eyck, Jan van Eyck and Lambert van Eyck were all painters; a sister, Margaret, was also identified as a painter by van Vaernewijck (1568), who recorded that she was unmarried and was buried next to Hubert in Ghent. The tradition that the family originated in Maaseick [Maeseyck], near Maastricht, seems confirmed by the dialect of Jan van Eyck’s motto and colour notes on his portrait drawing of a man (Dresden, Kupferstichkab.) and by his gift of vestments to a convent in Maaseick, where his daughter Lievine became a nun. The family belonged to the gentry: the armorials of Jan’s epitaph in St Bavo’s, Ghent, showed that his father or grandfather came from Brabant, perhaps near ’s Hertogenbosch, and married a woman from a Mosan family. It is possible that Barthelemy d’Eyck, court painter to King René I of Anjou, belonged to the same family.
 
 
 
Hubert van Eyck

(b c. 1385–90; d Ghent, 18 Sept 1426). Painter.
A Magister Hubertus, pictor was paid in 1409 for panels for the church of Onze Lieve Vrouwe, Tongeren, and a Master Hubert painted a panel bequeathed by Jan de Visch van der Capelle to his daughter, a Benedictine nun near Grevelingen, in 1413; considering the rarity of this given name among painters of the time, the artist may well have been Hubert van Eyck. The designation of Hubert as ‘Master’, his absence from guild records, the childlessness revealed in his heirs’ living outside Ghent and his sister’s burial beside him, all suggest that he was in minor orders, perhaps attached to the abbey church of St Bavo, Ghent (Dhanens, 1980). He must have settled in Ghent by c. 1420 and shortly afterwards begun his only surviving documented work, the retable with the Adoration of the Lamb or Ghent Altarpiece, which was commissioned for St Bavo’s by Jodocus Vijd (d 1439) and his wife Elisabeth Borluut (d 1443); to judge from its advanced state at the time of Hubert’s death it must have been designed c. 1423. The following year Hubert made two designs for a picture for the town magistrates of Ghent, some of whom visited his shop in 1425. He was probably commissioned to paint the retable with a painted or carved figure of St Anthony (untraced) for the altar in the church of the Saviour, Ghent, which Robbrecht Portier and his wife endowed on 9 March 1426. This can hardly have been started, however, since the retable for St Bavo’s must have occupied most of his time until his death six months later. The painter was buried in St Bavo’s before the altar on which the retable was to stand, a sign of the patrons’ esteem. The tombstone is still in the cathedral museum, bereft of the brass plaque with its inscription declaring that Hubert’s painting had won him fame and the highest honour.
 
 
 
Jan van Eyck

(b ?Maaseick, c. 1395; d Bruges, 22/23 June 1441). Painter and illuminator, brother of Hubert van Eyck.
According to a 16th-century Ghent tradition, represented by van Vaernewijck and Lucas d’Heere, Jan trained with his brother Hubert. Pietro Summonte’s assertion (1524) that he began work as an illuminator is supported by the fine technique and small scale of most of Jan’s works, by manuscript precedents for certain of his motifs, and by his payment in 1439 for initials in a book (untraced) for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Jan is first documented in The Hague in August 1422 as an established artist with an assistant and the title of ‘Master’, working for John III, Count of Holland (John of Bavaria; reg 1419–25), who evidently discovered the artist while he was bishop (1389–1417) of the principality of Liege. Jan became the court’s official painter and was paid, with a second assistant when the work increased in 1423, continuously, probably until the count’s death in January 1425.
 
 
 
 


Hubert van Eyck
The Three Marys at the Tomb
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam


 


Hubert van Ryck
The Three Marys at the Tomb (detail)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam


Hubert van Ryck
The Three Marys at the Tomb (detail)
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam

 
 

 


The Ghent Altarpiece
 
1432
 

by Hubert and Jan van EYCK

 


The Ghent Altarpiece (wings open)
1432
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent


The Ghent Altarpiece (wings closed)
1432
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

 


The Ghent Altarpiece (wings open)
1432
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

 

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adam; Cain and Abel
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adam
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adam
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
     
     
     

The Ghent Altarpiece: Eve; The Killing of Abel
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

The Ghent Altarpiece: Eve
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent

The Ghent Altarpiece: Eve
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
     
 
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: Virgin Mary
1426-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: Virgin Mary
1426-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: God Almighty
1426-27
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: God Almighty
1426-27
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: St John the Baptist
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 

The Ghent Altarpiece: St John the Baptist
1425-29
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent
 
 
 
 
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