Saturday, May 3, 2014
The Ghent Altarpiece, Or more Like Ghent Masterpiece
The 1st two top paintings are from the same piece by Jan Van Eyck., called the Ghent Altar Piece, 1432. This altar piece, which is also a polyptych because of it's multiple panels of action, was used in a church for mass. It's total size would have been around 12 feet high and 15 feet across when opened. The picture to the right is the exterior of the altarpiece while the picture underneath is the interior. It folds out like a pamphlet of a three piece poster board used for science projects and presentations.
At the very bottom of this post is another alter piece by Hieronymus Bosch called, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1504. This altarpiece is a triptych because it only consists of three panels of action. This painting could also have been located in a church, although it is hypothesized that perhaps a noble had it in his home as his personal collection. This triptych doesn't follow exactly the same type of narrative that was commonly found in church altar pieces and that's why it's come to be seen as some one's personal piece of art. Bosch had a very unique style that made him very popular with people of the time. He also was very good at drawing demons and fanciful scenes.
One thing that's also pretty cool about them is that they were using a technique of painting that we still don't fully know how to replicate. It has become a lost art, which is sad because it was a very sturdy technique that has lasted thee passage of time pretty well.
Their style consisted of painting on extremely dry panels of wood that were glued together. They first would put down a layer of shiny almost varnish like material that would be the back layer of the painting This was done so that when light passed through the painting it would it the back of the painting and be reflected back at the view creating a luminous effect, almost as if the painting was glowing from within. After that they would begin painting on the panels of wood with a mix of flax seed oil and pigments. They would put these varnish-like paints on in layers. therefore the painting was created through layering of paints. We understand the process that goes into creating one of these paintings yet we have been unable to recreate these style of paintings.
Is such a sad thing to see an amazing style of painting be lost in time. It's as if we have lost some of ourselves with the loss of this technique. I hope the beauty and talent of these painters is also appreciated by those who have seen this post.