The Van Eyck Brothers

At the height of Ghent’s great medieval commercial ascendancy in the 15c, its leading citizen, Jodocus Vijd, merchant banker and prominent politician, restored a chapel in what is now St Bavo’s Cathedral. He commissioned Hubert van Eyck to design the chapel’s altarpiece. Unfortunately, Hubert died, leaving the altarpiece to be completed by his younger brother, Jan van Eyck. Dedicated on 6 May 1432, the altarpiece comprises 12 panels, eight of which are hinged shutters. Each wing is painted on either side, giving two distinct views when open and closed. The Adoration of the Lamb is one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages. By their brilliant use of the medium of oil painting on panel, its creators heralded an artistic revolution. The Altarpiece, the defining monument of the “new realism” of Northern Renaissance art, is regarded as both the foundation of a distinguished tradition, and an exemplary achievement challenging all later artists. In 1495, a visitor named Hieronymus Münzer described it as encompassing the ‘whole art of painting.’

The large and complex altarpiece has suffered a varied history over the centuries. Dismantled, stolen, and damaged many times over, it was reassembled, cleaned, and last restored after World War II. In 2012 it was dismantled again for a five-year restoration project led by an international team of art historians, conservators, technicians, and scientists. The project itself has become an exhibit, one taking place in a glass-fronted room inside Ghent’s Museum of Fine Arts. The Cathedral, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Provincial Centre for Culture each offer excellent exhibitions illuminating the complete story of the creation and restoration of the masterpiece. Using the most recent advances in technology as well as traditional methods, the conservators have made astounding discoveries as they peel back centuries of accumulated dirt and ancient varnish.

Inscape has arranged private curator and specialist led visits to the restoration workshop itself, and to excellent supplementary exhibitions supporting the restoration. Setting the Van Eyck brothers in the Gothic architectural heritage of three Flemish towns, we see the source of many details in the altarpiece. We also visit the finest Flemish art collections in the world to examine the work of the Van Eycks’ talented followers such as Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling and Dieric Bouts. Our scholarly excursions will be punctuated throughout the day by delightful meals in the best restaurants in Bruges, and Ghent.

COST £1375 Members, £1425 non-Members, £90 single room supplement, £250 deposit, includes four nights accommodation in Bruges, with breakfasts, four lunches with wine, two dinners with wine, all lectures and curatorial tours, all entries, all travel during the tour, all gratuities, VAT.

EUROSTAR Please note that this cost excludes Eurostar ticket to and from Lille. It is no longer possible for us to make a group reservation for unknown numbers with Eurostar, as they now hold such bookings for no longer than a week. Please place your tour deposit with us as soon as possible so we may confirm that the trip is going ahead before making your Eurostar booking. Please note that Eurostar prices change on a daily basis. At the time of writing the price of a standard return ticket to Lille at the recommended times is £93.50. Please phone Sara in the Inscape office on 0208 566 7539 if you would like assistance with the reservation.