Did you know that Jan Borman was the best sculptor of his time?
The Bormans were a dynasty of Belgian sculptors, spanning four generations from 1460 to 1590, whose most famous representative, Jan II, known as Jan the Elder (ca. 1460-1520), achieved an absolute mastery of woodcarving.
Interest in painting has somewhat overshadowed this artistic field, which is now back in the limelight thanks to the recent restoration of the "Martyrdom of Saint George", a large altarpiece measuring 1.60 m by 5 m and featuring a multitude of figures, more than 80, all exceptionally carved, making this a world famous work and an emblematic piece from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. The master signed and dated this work in 1493. The seven scenes, in the late Gothic style, are surprising due to their highly expressive, realistic characters, their unparalleled attention to detail and the unequalled virtuosity of the carving, and allow viewers to experience the torture of the saint as if they were watching a film.
The order of the scenes was mixed up during its 19th century restoration, but they can now be seen as they were when they left the Borman workshop in Brussels. The latest restoration also uncovered an ex voto in a secret hiding place, as well as a parchment which proves that this work was never polychrome.
Other works by the woodcarving genius were exported throughout northern Europe, to Sweden, Germany, Great Britain and elsewhere.