Jan Van Eyck Biography | Oil Paintings
7-1389 Maaseik, BEL – 7-9-1441 Bruges, BELBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Jan van Eyck settled in Bruges in 1431, where he became a leading painter of his generation and founder of the Bruges School. He and his elder brother Hubert are credited with the invention of oil painting.
Jan van Eyck's paintings have a fresh quality about them, not only in the dazzling use of light and color but also in their expression and realism, which was something of a quantum leap in portraiture. He pioneered portraiture during the 1430s and was admired as far away as Italy for the naturalness of his depictions.
Jan van Eyck, a key figure in the history of western art, came from a family of painters; his brother Hubert and Barthelemy were also painters. As founder of the Flemish School, He was a celebrated figure in artistic and intellectual circles. The Dukes of Burgundy entrusted him with secret diplomatic missions in several countries, and these journeys gave his art a European breadth. However, his fame remains linked to the commercial cities of Bruges and Ghent in Flanders, (where he was in contact with Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden), which were experiencing the most prosperous period in their history. Even his earliest works are characterized by meticulous attention to detail and a mastery of the subtle effects of light.
Van Eyck's Incomparable Magic of Light.
In Van Eyck's art, the wonderful universe of Flemish and Burgundian illumination, before known only to a fortunate few, assumed monumental proportions, moving into the public sphere of great altarpiece painting. During the 1430s, after completing the Adoration of the Lamb polyptych left unfinished by his brother Hubert, he produced a remarkable series of masterpieces of religious painting. Yet, his contribution to portraiture was no less significant. He also mastered a technique of using oils and varnish, which has preserved the brilliant colors of his works through the centuries.
This polyptych, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is a monument of Flemish painting and a cornerstone of fifteenth-century European art. The altarpiece was begun by Hubert van Eyck, Jan's elder brother, however, shortly after beginning the design, Hubert died. The commission was then passed to his brother Jan, who can be considered the true artist of the work as a whole. The appeal of this work lies in the magic, luxuriant blossoming of nature, unlike Masaccio and the Florentine humanist painters, Van Eyck does not concentrate only on the human figure. The painting thus becomes the image of a microcosm, a rich, full, self-contained miniature world where the human and the divine come together.
Van Eyck was Considered a Revolutionary Master of the Portrait.
Van Eyck was considered a revolutionary master across northern Europe within his lifetime his designs and methods were heavily copied and reproduced. The following paintings break down his innovative style. From Van Eyck onward, Flemish portrait painters depicted their subjects in three-quarter profile as seen in Portrait Of A Man In A Red Turban, with lively expressions and hand gestures. The figures stand out from the background and speak to the viewer.
The extraordinary light effects in the painting Madonna Of Chancellor Rolin are created by using a single, vast perspective that has been analyzed down to the last detail. The device of the river, in line with the three-light window in the background, extends the view as far as the distant horizon. The detail of the two figures looking out from the balustrade would long be imitated in Flemish and Netherlands painting.
Portrait Of Giovanni Arnolfini And His Wife is an evocative painting celebrating the marriage of Tuscan merchant Giovanni Arnolfini, Van Eyck combines real and symbolic. The metal chandelier (the true center of the composition, simulating the reflections of the gilded bronze with astounding realism) emphasizes the volumes in the room and the source and direction of the rays of light. Using a much-celebrated visual device, Van Eyck also depicts the two witnesses to the wedding reflected in the convex mirror behind the couple.
The painting Madonna With Canon Van Der Paele is perhaps the work in Van Eyck's highly detailed reproduction of reality is taken to the extreme, in a meticulous depiction of the light effects on the different materials, the metals, stones, and even the folds of flesh on the face of the striking portrait of the donor.
Art Movement: Northern Renaissance.
He Traveled To Portugal, Netherlands, France.
Artists Influencing Jan Van Eyck: Hubert Van Eyck.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.