Painter/Artist: Jan van Eyck

Early Netherlandish School. Younger brother of Hubert. Most of his pictures are small bust portraits.


JEAN ARNOLFINI AND HIS WIFE Whole length, standing, in a small bedroom. The former, on our right, full face, looking downwards, his right hand upraised, his left extended with the open right hand of the latter resting on it. She is slightly farther back on the left, and nearly in profile, her left hand holding up the voluminous folds of her long green gown at her waist. He wears a very large plain beaver hat, and a long gown of purple tint edged with brown fur. She has a white hood on her head. At their feet stands a small griffin terrier. Behind her on the right is a large bed draped in red. On the left an open window. From the centre of the ceiling hangs an elaborate brass chandelier. On the wall at the back is a small circular mirror, and above it the inscription: ” Johannes de Eyck fuit hic, 1434″ (i.e., Jan Van Eyck was here).

Acquired after 1490 by Don Diego de Guevara, Major Domo of Joan, Queen of Castile, who gave it to Margaret of Austria before 1516. Acquired in 1530 by Mary of Hungary. In 1789 it was in the palace at Madrid, and soon after was taken by one of the French Generals. Major General Hay bought it in Brussels after the Battle of Waterloo, and sold it to this gallery in 1842.


THE VAN DER PAELE ALTAR-PIECE The Virgin is enthroned under a canopy in a niche in the choir of a church with the Child on her right knee, who with one hand is stroking a parrot, and with the other is taking a bunch of flowers from His mother. To the left stands St. Donatian in profile holding his archiepiscopal staff in his left hand, and his emblem of a wheel with five lighted tapers in his right. To the right St. George in full armour raising his helmet with his right hand. Between the latter and the Virgin kneels the donor, Canon George Van der Paele, in a white surplice, holding a half-open book to his breast with his left hand and his spectacles in his right. He is an old, bald-headed and clean-shaven man; a study for the head is at Hampton Court.

Painted c. 1434 for the Cathedral of St. Donatian.


ST. BARBARA The saint is seated in front of a very large Gothic tower which is in course of construction turning over the leaves of a book which lies on her knees, and holding a palm branch in her left hand. She is in a robe with full sleeves, open at the breast, falling in very large folds around her. Behind is a numerous crowd of masons, workmen, horsemen, and others, and in the background fields, trees, water, mountains, and castles, this being one of the only three of this master’s pictures with a landscape background.

Inscribed “Johes de Eyck me fecit, 1437.” A duplicate is in the Bruges Museum.