Artist's Name: Jan van Eyck
Piece Name: Ghent Altarpiece (closed)
Date: ca. 1400
Period: Northern Renaissance
Material: Oil on wood
Purpose: Liturgical centerpiece, Saint Bavo Cathedral
Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece is one of the largest and most renowned Flemish altarpieces of the 15th century. The piece was commissioned by the burgomeister (chief magistrate) of Ghent, Jodocus Vyd, and he and his wife, Isabel Borluut, can be seen in the lower left and right hand panels. Between them are intricately detailed painted statues of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, Ghent's patron saints. In the upper register of the piece is an Annunciation scene which uses many of the symbols common to Christian tradition and also boasts a careful rendition of a Flemish town. In the arched portions of the panels appear Old Testament prophets Zachary and Micah and two sibyls, classical mythological prophetesses whose writings the Christian Church interpreted as prophecies of Christ.
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