Jan van Eyck – get to know one of the most fascinating Flemish painters


Jan van Eyck was one of the most important representatives of Flemish painting. His works fascinate by his artistic quality but also by the incredible technical aptitude. Minute details are one of the most striking features of the artist’s paintings.

Jan Van Eyck Homem com turbante webJan van Eyck (circa  1395 – 1441)

Portrait of a Man in a Turban (Probable self-portrait) , 1433


Jan van Eyck and the oil painting

Jan van Eyck is often referred to as the inventor of oil painting. It may or may not be true.

It is true that the painter’s use of this technique is undoubtedly fascinating. The oil allowed the artists to reproduce shifters and glitters and, through finer brushes, to pay attention to the smallest details.

Some scholars claim that certain details of van Eyck’s works were performed with the aid of a magnifying glass.

In the following painting, of small dimension (31 x 14 cm) this characteristic is visible.

Madona in the church Jan van EyckVirgin in Church

Date:1437 – 1439 (31×14 cm)


Or in this painting

Jan van Eyck Virgem com o menino santosVirgin and child with saints and doner, 1441


The iconography as a study area

In 1935 Erwin Panofsky develops the first study to deal with the subject of symbolism and iconography within works of art.

The analysis of the Marriage of the Arnolfini.

The Arnolfini Portrait


For him, what might seem like a confusing and disorganized picture, conveyed, in reality, a very clear message: it was the representation of a marriage contract.

Symbolized by the presence of different elements whose hidden symbology pointed to the sacrament of marriage (like the dog, the sandals, the marriage bed, the mirror.

The very own signature of the painter, which states that «… was here», as if the painter had witnessed an event of importance) and the meaning that these elements could assume in the context in which the masterpiece was produced.


Marriage of the Arnolfini, by Jan Van Eyck

The Arnolfini Portrait

An insight into the best known work of Jan van Eyck and some of the present symbology.

To know the work of Jan van Eyck you can visite the website here.

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