Hubert (?) and Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece (closed) or The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
Part 1 - The Ghent Altarpiece Closed
We discuss the open Ghent Altarpiece on the next page.
Second Life correspondents Max Newbold and Sez Zabelin, discuss the closed Ghent Altarpiece (see the next video for a discussion of the open altarpiece) on the Vassar campus in Second Life. Unfortunately, it is not a recreation within the Vijd Chapel in Saint Bavo's cathedral in Ghent. We start with the recreation so we can show how the altarpiece opens and closes and so that the listener can get a sense of the scale of the altarpiece (it measures 11'5" feet tall). After the introduction in Second Life, we illustrate our discussion with details that show the altarpiece's magnificence.
One of the greatest masterpieces of the Northern Renaissance is the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck. Van Eyck worked for Philip the Good, the Duke of Brugundy, as well as other patrons (remember that Flanders was part of the Duchy of Burgundy at this time). This painting was commissioned by Jodocus Vyd, one of the richest businessmen in Flanders. The altarpiece still stands in its original location -- in the Cathedral of Ghent (though in a different location inside the Cathedral). So if you are ever in Brussels, make sure you take a short train trip to Ghent.
Like the Merode Altarpiece that we just looked at, the Ghent Altarpiece opens and closes. But unlike the Merode Altarpiece this is more than three paintings (a triptych), it has many panels, and so it is called a polypych (the prefix poly means many). It would open on Feast Days and Holidays, and otherwise remained closed. There are paintings to see either way, but of course its much more fabulous when it is opened!
When the Ghent Altarpiece opens, it measures more than 11 feet high by 15 feet wide.
Where and When
(now Belgium), 1432