Jan Van Eyck - Flemish School

IT IS BELIEVED that Jan Van Eyck was born at Maaseyck about 1386 and that he was some fifteen years younger than his less celebrated brother, Hubert. No details of his art studies are known, but his reputation must have been firmly established by 1425 when he entered the service of Philip of Burgundy as court painter. From records of the duke's expenditures it appears that the painter was frequently employed on private missions, but their exact nature can only be guessed. Important among the many works upon which the brothers Hubert and Jan worked together is the famous "Adoration of the Lamb," which adorns Ghent Cathedral.

Not only were the Van Eycks, Hubert and Jan, known by those values upon which true distinction in painting rests; they were important innovators through the introduction into their compositions of actual portraits in three-quarter view meticulously faithful to the characteristics of their sitters, and, through their rendering of light and distant detailed landscapes, the precursors of the realism which was to follow. While they were not the first to employ oil pigments, their use having been known since the tenth century, the Van Eycks developed them to such perfection as to establish them in the favor of the Flemish school.

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