Is this true? Should the fact that I am an actual Art Historian count for something at long last? I never thought this day would come!
No, I’m exaggerating, of course. But I am glad that I can use some of that knowledge and share with you my admiration of one of the greatest artist there ever was: Jan van Eyck.
Jan van Eyck has created astonishing works of art. I came to love them when I was studying in my fourth semester and was taking a class on the old dutch masters. There was a diptych that I had to write a paper on. This one:
Jan van Eyck (circa 1390–1441) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As a matter of fact, that class, these works, what they stand for, is what changed my life and what gave me the first clue as to who I am professionally.
There is so much to be said about this piece, it wouldn’t fit here. Suffice it to say that back then I had been working with an illustration of this diptych for about six months. During that time I looked at it every day, for hours. I still had, and still have today, to remind myself that it is not statues I am seeing. This is an actual painting.
This is one of Jan van Eyck’s trademarks, the so called trompe l’oeil, the illusion that a factual painting seems to be a statue or a person or something like that. Another example is this little piece, that I had the pleasure of seeing live in Antwerp:
The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.–
You might believe that this painting is unfinished or rather drawn. Another illusion, it really is an oil paninting. The lines are so fine, the artist cannot have used more than a single hair to paint them!
Jan van Eyck had another trademark: reflections. His interieurs are full of reflecting surfaces. And he used them to portrait himself and so sign his works. One of the most famous examples for this is the Arnolfini Portrait:
By Jan van Eyck (circa 1390–1441) – Web site of National Gallery, London, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11343084
On a very close look you can see the whole seen reflected in the mirror on the back wall – including the master at his work. I don’t know why but when I was browsing my pictures I came across the wine glass series I shot about two years ago in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. Something in it made me think of how van Eyck used reflections. So this is my entry to The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Life imitates Art: