The findings of a Belgian investigation will shed light on one of the secrets that the construction site ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ has kept for centuries: the contribution of the painters brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck in the elaboration of one of the most distinguished altarpieces of the Flemish schoolto.
Thanks to modern technologies, the researchers confirmed the direct involvement of the eldest of the Eycks, they managed to directly relate parts of the work with the brush of each of the brothers and were even able to draw chronologically how part of the painting was composed.
“We see it as an interaction between two phases (between the work of Hubert and Jan van Eyck). It is very important because Jan van Eyck meant a complete revolution in the art of painting in Europe. It had an enormous influence on the development of the visual arts here in Belgium, the Netherlands, but also in other parts of the continent, which is why it is a fundamental issue for art, history and visual culture, ”the chief explained to Efe. from the team of restaurateurs, Hélène Dubois.
The discovery was revealed during the restoration of ‘The Mystic Lamb’, centerpiece of the work, which was captained by the University of Antwerp and the Royal Institute of Artistic Heritage of Belgium, the same that carried out the restoration of the oil painting of the animal that caused a furor on social networks last year when the sheep was represented with the eyes much closer together, more defined and with a certain human aspect.
But the atmosphere this time in the Cathedral of Saint Bavo in Ghent, where the work is exhibited, was not that of mockery or of remembering something that was fleetingly viral, but of expectation when unravel one of the mysteries that has most surrounded the well-known work thanks to the rehabilitation that began in 2012 and will continue with the upper part of the altarpiece that will last until 2024.
During this, the work has required X-ray examinations and it has been necessary to lift the layers of oil with scalpels and tiny brushes until reaching the original painting that had been covered around the year 1500. Thanks to this, the researchers were able to investigate in a way deeper into the enigma of authorship and at what level each of the artists participated.
The sky, the landscape and a meadow
Any doubts about Hubert van Eyck’s contribution were dispelled, as some hypotheses pointed out for years that he limited himself only to raising and designing what the painting. From what is known so far, he created some of the parts of the fresco with his own hand and brush.
Specifically, painted the sky, landscape with buildings and a meadowDubois pointed out, who assures that they are still working to clarify to what extent the eldest of the van Eycks participated in the elaboration of the altarpiece.
After his death in 1426 (the work saw the light in 1432), Jan took over from him. “He added a lot of elements in the painting everywhere, especially he repainted the whole meadow with the flowers and vegetation. He added a lot of greenery to the landscape and buildings on the horizon. And he also painted the fountain, which symbolizes life, very large, covering the one that was painted by Hubert ”, explained the restorer.
The centuries of paint and oils that were removed after various restorations over the years also revealed a third phase in which Jan van Eyck would no longer participate and in which various adjustments were made.
The latest findings open doors until now hidden to continue advancing in the study of the genesis of the flamenco school, and even the work and life of Hubert van Eyck, of whom there are few attributed works and it is believed that he could have followed one of the greatest influences of his younger brother.