The beauty of Van Eyck lies in the details
After six years of European prize-winning research, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage has published the latest very high resolution images on the website dedicated to Jan Van Eyck.
The Closer to Van Eyck website provides a close-up view of the work of the medieval painter Van Eyck and captures the master's work in the finest detail thanks to a collection of scientific images, macro photos, infrared images and X-rays of 20 works by Jan van Eyck from 11 prestigious museums.
Website visitors follow step by step the restoration of the painter's key work, the altarpiece of the "Mystic Lamb", and discover the original anthropomorphic face of the central subject, whose human features had been erased from the face of the sheep by a 17th century repaint, and admire the many examples from before and after the restoration, as well as access to the complete works of the painter. Since all the paintings were photographed using the same protocol and with the same equipment, it is now possible, for the first time, to compare them down to the last detail based on standardised images.
An early as the beginning of the 17th century, the precision and incredible abundance of detail in the paintings had not escaped discerning observers, "The hair of the men, the tails and manes of the horses can almost be counted. They are so finely painted that every artist is astonished," wrote Karel van Mander in 1604. As the screening is interactive, the website will allow specialists and amateurs alike to enjoy the 300 selected details as they wish.
The master sometimes created several versions of the same composition, which we can now compare down to the last detail, for the first time, as is the case with the Madonna and Child at the Fountain, one version of which is in Antwerp, the other in New York. Another exclusive feature of the site are photos of the reverse of the paintings.