Popular Gallery
 Our best partners

 Help development
Jan van Eyck (about 1395-1441)  Ghent Altarpiece  Closed view, back panels  Oil on panel, 1432  375 x 260 cm  Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent, Belgium
Goback 4 / 23 Forward

Title: Ghent Altarpiece
Jan van Eyck (about 1395-1441)
Ghent Altarpiece
Closed view, back panels
Oil on panel, 1432
375 x 260 cm
Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent, Belgium

Zachariah and angel: 162.5 x 69.1 cm (173 x 83.5 cm)
Sibyl and window: 204.8 x 33 cm (218.2 x 45.9 cm)
Sibyl and washbowl: 204.5 x 32.3 cm (218.4 x 45.2 cm)
Michael and Virgin: 161.5 x 69.5 cm (173.5 x 83.4 cm)
Jodocus Vyd: 145.7 x 51 cm (157.4 x 64.6 cm)
St John the Baptist: 146 x 51.8 cm (157.3 x 63.9 cm)
St John the Evangelist: 146.4 x 52.6 cm (157.2 x 64.5 cm)
Vyd's wife: 145.8 x 50.7 cm (157 x 64.6 cm)

The Ghent Altarpiece or Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (Dutch: Het Lam Gods or The Lamb of God; completed 1432) is a very large and complex Early Netherlandish polyptych panel painting which is considered to be one of Belgium's masterpieces and one of the world's treasures.

It was once in the Joost Vijdt chapel at Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, but was later moved for security reasons to the chapel of the cathedral. Commissioned by the wealthy merchant and financier Joost Vijdt for his and his wife's private chapel, it was begun by Hubert van Eyck, who died in 1426 whilst work was underway, and completed by his younger brother Jan van Eyck. The altarpiece represented a "new conception of art", in which the idealization of the Classical tradition gave way to an exacting observation of nature.

The altarpiece consists of a total of 24 compartmented scenes, which make up two views, open and closed, which are d by moving the hinged outer wings. The upper register (row) of the opened view shows Christ the King (but see below) between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The insides of the wings represent angels singing and making music, and on the outside Adam and Eve. The lower register of the central panel shows the adoration of the Lamb of God, with several groups in attendance and streaming in to worship, overseen by the dove representing the Holy Spirit. On weekdays the wings were closed, showing the Annunciation of Mary and donor portraits of Joost Vijdt and his wife Lysbette Borluut.

There used to be an inscription on the frame stating that Hubert van Eyck maior quo nemo repertus (greater than anyone) started the altarpiece, but that Jan van Eyck - calling himself arte secundus (second best in the art) - finished it in 1432. The original, very ornate carved outer frame and surround, presumably harmonizing with the painted tracery, was destroyed during the Reformation; there has been speculation that it may have included clockwork mechanisms for moving the shutters and even playing music.

The original lower left panel known as The Just Judges was stolen in 1934. The original panel has never been found and has been replaced by a copy made in 1945 by Jef Vanderveken. The stolen panel figures prominently in Albert Camus' novel La chute.


The main register panels show the Annunciation to Mary across four panels. To the left we see the message of the arl Gabriel, to the right the answer given by Mary, which, as in another van Eyck Annunciation is written upside-down for God to read. There has been speculation as to whether the view from the window was the view from Van Eyck's workplace in Ghent; this could give us an idea where Van Eyck lived or worked.

Jodocus Vijd and Lysbette Borluut

Jodocus Vijd was a very wealthy merchant. The couple was childless and tried to live on in a different way, as patrons of this monumental painting.
Other panels

Between the donors are Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist as statues on plinths, painted in grisaille. In the top register, the prophets Zaccariah and Micah look down from lunettes on the fulfillment of their prophecies, which are contained in banderoles floating behind them. Between them are two sibyls, whose prophecies were also thought to have foretold the coming of Christ.
Several of the painting's wings were bought in 1816 by Edward Solly of England, who lived in Germany. They were later bought by the King of Prussia and continued to be kept in Germany. During World War I, other panels were taken from the cathedral by Germany. As part of mandated compensation in the Versailles Treaty after the end of the war, Germany returned the pilfered panels along with the original panels that had been legitimately bought by Solly, to help compensate for other German "acts of destruction" during the war.

The Germans "bitterly resented the loss of the panels", and at the start of another conflict with Germany in 1940, a decision was made in Belgium to send the painting to the Vatican to keep it safe. The painting was en route to the Vatican, in France, when Italy declared war as an Axis power alongside Germany. The painting was stored in a museum in Pau for the duration of the war, as French, Belgian and German military representatives signed an agreement which required the consent of all three before the masterpiece could be moved. In 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered the painting to be seized and brought to Germany to be stored in a Bavarian castle. After Allied air raids made the castle too dangerous for the painting, it was stored in a salt mine. Belgian and French authorities protested the seizing of the painting, and the head of the German army's Art Protection Unit was dismissed after he disagreed with the seizure.

The altarpiece was recovered by the Americans following the war and was returned to Belgium in a ceremony presided over by Belgian royalty and held at the Royal Palace of Brussels, where the 17 panels were erected for the press. No French officials were invited to the ceremony, since the Vichy French had allowed the Germans to remove the painting to Germany.

Hits: 11136
Direct Link
HTML code
BB code
Goback 4 / 23 Forward
Jan van Eyck (about 1395-1441)  Crucifixion and Last Judgment  Oil on canvas, transferred  wood, about 1430  56.5 x 19.7 cm (each panel)  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USAJan van Eyck (about 1395-1441)  Ghent Altarpiece  Closed view, back panels  Oil on panel, 1432  375 x 260 cm  Cathedral of St Bavo, Ghent, BelgiumJan van Eyck (about 1395-1441)  Rolin Madonna  Oil on panel, about 1430-1434  66 x 62 cm  Musee du Louvre, Paris, France
 Our best partners

 Welcome in Gallery

We are proud to say we are one of the largest and most comprehensive online collections. On our pages you will find over 10,000 works of art. We are dedicated to bringing you quality information about artists and their artwork all around the world.

 Best gallery
2022 All right reserved Web Gallery