A Quick Look at Jan Van Eyck

During the late 17th century, the Dutch master painter Jan Van Eyck had a considerable influence on the art scene in the Netherlands. He was commissioned by numerous religious institutions and had a profound impact on the country’s cultural landscape. Here is a quick look at his life and works.

Jan Van Eyck

Early life

Known for his painting skills, Jan van Eyck rose from an obscure early life to become one of the most prominent artists of the Low Countries. He is most famous for his Ghent Altarpiece, a twelve-panel religious painting. The work, which took six years to complete, is considered the greatest masterpiece of the late Middle Ages.

The Ghent Altarpiece, which features Biblical figures, was commissioned by a wealthy statesman. It depicts biblical stories such as the adoration of the lamb of God, the nativity of Jesus, and Adam and Eve. This work also served as a study for other painters to learn the style of van Eyck. It was eventually incorporated into the Ghent humanist movement.

The cult of the Virgin Mary was a common feature of European worship during the Middle Ages. It is still a major theme in the Catholic church today. The Virgin’s robes and crowns are emphasized in the works of van Eyck.

His style is often compared to that of an Impressionist artist. He used indirect lighting to create a smooth, mystical effect. The use of Latin in his paintings, however, led to disagreements about some of his works.

The Virgin’s dresses and crowns are also emphasized in the works of van Eyck. His use of multi-figured subjects in his paintings was an important influence on Hieronymus Bosch. He may have studied with Masaccio. He received many commissions from churches and other individuals. He also painted banners, sculptures, and other religious objects.

Hubert van Eyck, a painter, was van Eyck’s brother. They shared the same father and had similar tastes. But while Hubert was praised for a few works, it was Jan who became the most celebrated.

Religious commissions

During his long career, Jan van Eyck was a master of light, perspective and realism. He is known internationally for his exquisite details in religious paintings.

One of his best-known works is the Ghent Altarpiece. It is comprised of twelve detailed panels. It is divided vertically and depicts Biblical stories. The central theme is the Annunciation.

The cult of the Virgin Mary was common in European worship during the Middle Ages. Her image appears in many of van Eyck’s paintings. She is emphasized by rich dresses and crowns. She is also shown with young Jesus. The regal image is a representation of her role as Queen of Heaven.

Van Eyck’s work has been credited with the invention of an abundance of symbolic details in architecture. The hanging candelabra is a symbol of the presence of God. The man’s clogs indicate the event is taking place on holy ground. The oranges on the chest under the window may be a fertility symbol.

The portrait of Nicholas Rolin is a fine example of van Eyck’s skill in light. He is seated in a regal palace, wearing sumptuous robes.

The choir of angels flanks the trio of seated figures. The phrase “sacra conversazione” translates to “holy conversation”. The painting was a popular subject in Italy.

The Ghent Altarpiece is one of the most impressive religious works ever painted. It took van Eyck six years to complete. It combines infinite detail with epic scale.

He also invented the sacra conversazione, or “holy conversation.” It is a genre of painting that depicts the communion of saints. In this work, a single candle is placed in a hanging candelabra, which symbolizes the presence of God.

Influence on the Netherlands

Throughout his career, Jan Van Eyck influenced the Netherlands and the northern Renaissance through his art. His works included secular portraiture, altarpieces, illuminated manuscripts, and religious paintings. His work was noted for the meticulousness of its details. He was known as the “inventor” of the veristic realism of the late medieval period.

He was born in Maaseyck, a small town near the bend of the Maas river. He had at least two brothers and five sisters. The eldest brother, Hubert, was a painter. He took charge of the education of the younger brother, Jan. After the death of Hubert in 1426, the younger Jan inherited his artistic education.

He became a member of the Tournai painters’ guild. He also studied with Robert Campin. In 1427, he was feted by the guild. He probably met Campin when he was invited to be a part of the court. The influence of Campin’s work on Jan van Eyck was forgotten. He also absorbed the bold realism of Campin.

After his marriage to Margaret, Jan remained in Bruges. He was paid a large salary. The family had a large estate. He and his wife had at least ten children. He helped one of his daughters to buy an entrance to a convent.

After his death, his widow continued to receive payments from Philip. He had a workshop in Bruges, and his assistants made exact copies of his paintings. Their efforts helped to popularize the artist’s name across Europe.

His work predated Leonardo da Vinci’s naturalistic landscapes by 50 years. His style anticipated the Baroque Dutch landscape tradition. He used oil to recreate textures and figures. His paintings depicted monarchs and other important people.


During the early fifteenth century, Jan Van Eyck’s paintings became a source of inspiration for painters across Europe. His work is rich in detail and texture, with brilliant colors. The renowned Ghent Altarpiece, which is in the Groeningenmuseum in Bruges, is one example of this.

In the late 1430s, Jan Van Eyck was hired by the Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good. He spent nine months in Portugal, where he was tasked with painting Isabella of Portugal. During this time, Jan Van Eyck was inspired by Gothic art and Masaccio.

After returning to Bruges, Jan Van Eyck received commissions from several churches. He also painted portraits. His paintings were often commissioned to commemorate an occasion. A famous portrait of Nicholas Rolin shows the artist’s attention to detail. This image is believed to have been a marriage proposal painting.

After Jan’s death in 1441, his younger brother Lambert took over his workshop. He may have oversaw the closing of the workshop. This may have helped to settle the artist’s estate.

Although Jan Van Eyck’s life was short, his paintings had a lasting impact. His work is still collected and studied. His works influenced Albert Ouwater and Hieronymus Bosch. His multi-figured style is reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. His paintings have a mystic quality. His techniques included impasto, a technique which allowed for subtle changes in shading.

He used a very fine brush to paint his works. He made great use of indirect lighting. He differentiated between interior and exterior light, which gave his paintings a mystic quality. His paintings had a still-life quality, combining objects to convey religious ideas.

After his death, Jan van Eyck’s paintings were copied by many artists. His works were so often replicated that his name became a household word in Europe.

Inscriptions and mottoes

During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Jan van Eyck was a highly regarded Flemish artist. His skill in handling oil paint allowed him to achieve realistic modeling. He was a pioneer in the creation of realistic effects. He became famous internationally for his religious paintings. He was credited with many early works, such as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb altarpiece painting.

A large number of Jan’s panels display an inscription that reads “Iohannes de Eyck”. Some linguists have challenged the authenticity of the inscription, but most art historians agree that the inscription is authentic. The inscription is dated 1432.

The Ghent Altarpiece is one of the best known examples of Jan’s work. The central panel consists of an image of a sacrificial lamb. The outer panels include scenes of Adam and Eve, St. John the Baptist, the Deisis, and the Virgin Mary. The upper portion of the inner panels depicts heavenly redemption.

The Ghent Altarpiece was restored in the 16th century. A 16th-century transcription identifies it as a work by Jan van Eyck. However, it is unclear how the altarpiece was created. It is possible that Hubert began the work and Jan continued it after his death. A recent philological study has cast doubt on the authenticity of the inscription.

Philip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy, sent Jan on several diplomatic missions. In 1428, he went to Prague and Lisbon. He also made a secret trip for Philip in 1436. The court took pride in having a member of their entourage at such a young age. The two brothers worked closely together during these trips.

When Hubert died in 1426, his younger brother Jan took charge of his artistic education. He began to work on a commission for the Ghent Altarpiece in the early 1420s. He submitted preliminary drawings to the council in Ghent.