Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum
   You are in: Museum of Art >> Hall of Netherlandishand Flemish Art >> Jan van Eyck





American’s Four United Republics: Discovery-Based Curriculum

For More Information go to America's Four United Republics Curriculum


 


Jan van Eyck

1390 - 1441



The Annunciation - National Gallery of Art

Netherlandish Artist

Jan van Eyck—the second in age, though perhaps the first in art, of the brothers— was born at Maaseyck, about the year 1390Jan van Eyck—the second in age, though perhaps the first in art, of the brothers— was born at Maaseyck, about the year 1390

Jan van Eyck—the second in age, though perhaps the first in art, of the brothers— was born at Maaseyck, about the year 1390—probably a little earlier. He first entered the service of John of Bavaria, who, when dying, recommended him to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, who in 1425 made him his "varlet de chambre," with a yearly salary of one hundred livres. In 1428 his patron sent him to paint the portrait of Isabel of Portugal, whom that monarch wished to marry. On his way the ship was forced, through bad weather, to put in at Sandwich, Plymouth, and Falmouth. England thus had the honour of a visit—though a flying one—from Van Eyck. After he had made a successful journey to Portugal, painted the portrait, which was approved, and spent a few months in seeing Spain and Portugal, Van Eyck returned to Bruges, where he received fifty livres for the portrait and his "confidential services." He then bought a house in Bruges, where he lived until his death on the 9th of July, 1440. The only proof we have of his marriage is that his patron Duke Philip stood godfather to his daughter, to whom he presented six silver cups.

We have already stated that the altar-piece, commenced by the two brothers, was completed by Jan after Flubrecht's death. Let us examine Jan's share of the work. The side-wings, with the exception of Adam and Eve, are in the Berlin gallery. It may be interesting to see how they got there. The whole altar-piece was taken to Paris in the Napoleonic wars, but was returned at the Peace. It was then replaced in St. Bavon, but the side-wings were unaccountably left in a cellar, where they were discovered by a monk, who sold them to M. Nieuwenhuys. the art-connoisseur. He sold then to Mr. Solly, who parted with them to the late King of Prussia for 4ooo/. Hence they are in the Berlin Museum. Beginning at the bottom on the left hand, we notice the Righteous Judges (Justi Judices)—ten figures on horseback in a Flemish landscape; the judge mounted on a grey horse in the foreground is Hubrechtvan Eyck, who looks at least twenty years older than the portrait of his brother, the third figure on his left, thus giving a somewhat conclusive evidence to the difference which historians make in the ages of the two men. We next come to the Holy Warriors (Christi Milites)—nine figures also on horseback, with a landscape background, and all in warlike costumes. In the foreground may be recognized St. George, Charlemagne, Godfrey de Bouillon, Baldwin of Constantinople, and St. Louis. Still going from left to right, comes the Adoration of the Lamb, towards which the people in the side-wings are directed, and which forms one grand centre-piece. We next come to the Hermits (Hyrenetisti)—ten figures assembled in a wild place, in a sort of ravine. It is easy to recognize, in the foreground, the hermits St. Paul and St. Anthony, and at the end of the procession St. Mary Magdalen and St. Mary the Egyptian. At the extreme right we see the Pilgrims (Peregrinisti). The giant Christopher is Jeading seventeen pilgrims of different ages and countries. In the landscapes of the two latter panels, Van Eyck has introduced the orange-tree, the stone-pine, the cypress, and the palm-— southern trees which he had seen in Portugal in 1428. Besides these Jan van Eyck also probably executed the Choirs of Angels on the top part of the interior, and undoubtedly the Annunciation; the figures of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and the portraits of Jua'ocus Vydt and his Wife, and the prophets Micah and Zachariah •—all on the exterior wings of the altar-piece.

The parts by Jan are very unequal in style and in proportions. In the groups of the celestial musicians, where the painter seems to have desired to distinguish two sexes, making men and women angels, the figures are almost of life size, whilst in the other more complicated subjects the numerous figures are only about a foot high. There is as great a difference in merit as in form between these two styles of composition. We admire, however, the small figures more than the larger ones. In life-sized figures Van Eyck seems to be singularly cramped. He is embarrassed in the drawing, which becomes stiff, and in the colouring, which becomes dry and too minute, and, in order to give expression to the faces, the eyes and mouth are almost made to grimace. But in the smaller figures he shows his usual simplicity and skill. In these we find truth, brilliancy, power and solidity.

Amongst the numerous works of the younger Van Eyck after the death of his brother, there are none more curious than the two Heads of Christ which are at Bruges and Berlin. They both represent the traditional Head brought from Byzantium, and which is still seen on the banners of the Greek communion. They are surrounded by a golden glory in the form of a cross, and on the green background there may be seen in the upper part, the A and O of the Greeks, and in the lower part, the I and F (initinm et finis) of the Latins. But that of Bruges bears this inscription: "Jo de Eyck, inventor, anno 1420, 30 January;" and that of Berlin: "Jokes de Eyck, me fecit et appleviit, anno 1438, 31 January." This means, if we afe not mistaken, that the Head of Christ at Bruges is one of the first trials, perhaps the first, of the processes with which the Van Eycks endowed the art of painting. This circumstance by putting back a few years the invention of oil painting, which is by general consent placed about 1410, would also explain the singular slowness of the spreading of this invention, since no Italian made use of it before the year 1445, whilst the Head at Berlin, dated eighteen years later, is a work done when its author had attained to the maturity of his talent and the full use of his processes. The former, indeed, has hard outlines, and a reddish and monotonous coloring, while the latter, on the contrary, shows the manner of Van Eyck when it had reached the highest stage of perfection. For history the Head at Bruges is the more valuable; for art, that of Berlin.

At Bruges, also, we shall find one of the chefs-d'a-uvre of the painter who has rendered the name of this town so famous. This is a Glorified Madonna, dated 1436, and treated in the style of Francia, Perugino, and the masters of that period. At the left of the Madonna, who is seated on a throne, is St. Donatian, in the dress of an archbishop; on the right St. George, clothed in rich and complete amour. A little behind him is the kneeling donor of the picture, the Canon George de Pala, from whom the popular name for the picture is taken. This work, in which the personages are half the size of life, is wonderful for its extreme vigour, and for the minute finish of all its details, as well as by its singular preservation. Before seeing it, we had admired in Van Eyck rather the inventor than the painter; but before this wonderful work we were obliged to confess that, even if Van Eyck had, like his successors, merely profited by the discoveries of others, he would still, by his works as an artist, deserve an eminent place amongst the masters.

The Museum at Antwerp possesses a repetition of this Canon de Pala, as well as three portraits by the hand of Van Eyck—a Magistrate, a Monk at prayer, and another a Dignitary of the church; besides these, there is also a small drawing in chiaroscuro, which is very precious, and carefully preserved under glass. It represents the Builiag of a Gothic church by a number of laborers, who are so small that they look almost like the busy workers in an ant-hill. In the foreground is seated a female saint, the patroness, doubtless, of the building in course of construction, who appears to be presiding over the works as the architect of the monument. It would be impossible to carry patient labor, fineness and precision of touch, and powerful effects to a greater degree. This picture is usually supposed to represent St. Barbara—the Gothic tower being her attribute. This legend may be read on the old frame in red marble: "Johes de Eyck me fecit, 1435"

The National Gallery possesses three specimens of Jan van Eyck. The first, entitled, Portraits of Jean Arnolfini and Jeanne de Chenany, his Wife" A lady, dressed with, the heavy elegance of the fashion of that day, is holding out her open hand to a gentleman dressed in black. In the centre of the picture, and as if written on the walls of the room, is the signature, 'Joannes de Eyck fuit hie, 1434. Then comes an admirable half-length Portrait of a middle-aged man, with a red handkerchief round his head, which is believed to be the likeness of Van Eyck himself. On seeing the date, 1433, it may well be said that in the last four centuries no one can boast of having represented human nature with more truth, strength, and nature. Last comes a Portrait of a man in a dark red dress and a green hood; it bears the date 1432.

Munich, in its rich Pinakothek, has no less than six pictures by the great Van Eyck. Of this number, three are of the Adoration of the Magi, a subject he seems to have been particularly fond of, since it was an Adoration of the Magi that he sent to Alfonso, King of Naples, the sight of which picture made Antonello da Messina wish to discover the secret of oil painting. The largest of the three is an important work, in which there are eleven personages besides the traditional ox and ass. The second, although of smaller proportions is more valuable from the perfection of the work, and from its historical interest. One of the Eastern kings, who is on his knees, kissing the hand of the Child-God, is the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, and the negro king, with his swarthy complexion, presents a faithful portrait of Charjes the Bold; both wear the rich costumes of the Burgundian Court.

At Paris it is useless to seek Van Eyck any more than Holbein, Cranach or Diirer. It is true that attributed to him is a Vierge au Donataire, thus named because Jesus, carried by his mother, who is being crowned by an angel, is blessing an old man on his knees before him, who had doubtless ordered his portrait to be taken in this posture of ex veto. Rather pale in its general tint, without much relief or depth, this picture does not. show anything of the brilliant colour which is called the "purple of Van Eyck," just as we speak of the "gold of Titian," or the "silver of Veronese." In any case it is not one of those which deserve his short and modest motto, ALS IXH XAN (als ich kan—as well as I can—the beginning of an old Flemish proverb "As I can, but not as I will"). It is a misfortune to France that there is no great work in the Louvre by Van Eyck; and, indeed, there is no place where a sight of this great master would be of more use.

'Lambert van Eyck was a third brother, but a very inferior master, indeed scarcely any known work by him exists. An unfinished polyptych, formerly ascribed to Jan, painted for Nicolas of Maelbecke, dean of the monastery of St. Martin at Ypres, is thought by some writers to be by him. It is now in the possession of the families of Van der Schriek and Schollaert at Louvain (Kugler's ' Handbook'). Lambert van Eyck survived his brother Jan by several years.


Start your search on Jan van Eyck.


America's Four United Republics Exhibit - Click Here


Unauthorized Site: This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected, associated with or authorized by the individual, family, friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated sites that are related to this subject will be hyper linked below upon submission and Evisum, Inc. review.

Copyright© 2000 by Evisum Inc.TM. All rights reserved.
Evisum Inc.TM Privacy Policy

Search:

About Us

 

 

Image Use

Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The People Click Here

 

Childhood & Family

Click Here

 

Historic Documents

Articles of Association

Articles of Confederation 1775

Articles of Confederation

Article the First

Coin Act

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

Monroe Doctrine

Northwest Ordinance

No Taxation Without Representation

Thanksgiving Proclamations

Mayflower Compact

Treaty of Paris 1763

Treaty of Paris 1783

Treaty of Versailles

United Nations Charter

United States In Congress Assembled

US Bill of Rights

United States Constitution

US Continental Congress

US Constitution of 1777

US Constitution of 1787

Virginia Declaration of Rights

 

Historic Events

Battle of New Orleans

Battle of Yorktown

Cabinet Room

Civil Rights Movement

Federalist Papers

Fort Duquesne

Fort Necessity

Fort Pitt

French and Indian War

Jumonville Glen

Manhattan Project

Stamp Act Congress

Underground Railroad

US Hospitality

US Presidency

Vietnam War

War of 1812

West Virginia Statehood

Woman Suffrage

World War I

World War II

 

Is it Real?



Declaration of
Independence

Digital Authentication
Click Here

 

America’s Four Republics
The More or Less United States

 
Continental Congress
U.C. Presidents

Peyton Randolph

Henry Middleton

Peyton Randolph

John Hancock

  

Continental Congress
U.S. Presidents

John Hancock

Henry Laurens

John Jay

Samuel Huntington

  

Constitution of 1777
U.S. Presidents

Samuel Huntington

Samuel Johnston
Elected but declined the office

Thomas McKean

John Hanson

Elias Boudinot

Thomas Mifflin

Richard Henry Lee

John Hancock
[
Chairman David Ramsay]

Nathaniel Gorham

Arthur St. Clair

Cyrus Griffin

  

Constitution of 1787
U.S. Presidents

George Washington 

John Adams
Federalist Party


Thomas Jefferson
Republican* Party

James Madison 
Republican* Party

James Monroe
Republican* Party

John Quincy Adams
Republican* Party
Whig Party

Andrew Jackson
Republican* Party
Democratic Party


Martin Van Buren
Democratic Party

William H. Harrison
Whig Party

John Tyler
Whig Party

James K. Polk
Democratic Party

David Atchison**
Democratic Party

Zachary Taylor
Whig Party

Millard Fillmore
Whig Party

Franklin Pierce
Democratic Party

James Buchanan
Democratic Party


Abraham Lincoln 
Republican Party

Jefferson Davis***
Democratic Party

Andrew Johnson
Republican Party

Ulysses S. Grant 
Republican Party

Rutherford B. Hayes
Republican Party

James A. Garfield
Republican Party

Chester Arthur 
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland
Democratic Party

Benjamin Harrison
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland 
Democratic Party

William McKinley
Republican Party

Theodore Roosevelt
Republican Party

William H. Taft 
Republican Party

Woodrow Wilson
Democratic Party

Warren G. Harding 
Republican Party

Calvin Coolidge
Republican Party

Herbert C. Hoover
Republican Party

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Democratic Party

Harry S. Truman
Democratic Party

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican Party

John F. Kennedy
Democratic Party

Lyndon B. Johnson 
Democratic Party 

Richard M. Nixon 
Republican Party

Gerald R. Ford 
Republican Party

James Earl Carter, Jr. 
Democratic Party

Ronald Wilson Reagan 
Republican Party

George H. W. Bush
Republican Party 

William Jefferson Clinton
Democratic Party

George W. Bush 
Republican Party

Barack H. Obama
Democratic Party

Please Visit

Forgotten Founders
Norwich, CT

Annapolis Continental
Congress Society


U.S. Presidency
& Hospitality

© Stan Klos

 

 

 

 


Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum