Very little is known of Hubert, the older of the two brothers. He is said to have worked (1414-17) for Duke William of Bavaria and is known to have settled in Ghent early in the 15th cent. Among the few works tentatively attributed to him are an Annunciation and a remarkable miniaturistic diptych of the Crucifixion and Last Judgment (both: Metropolitan Mus.). Jan van Eyck was active at the courts of Count John of Holland (1422-25) and Philip of Burgundy. In the service of Duke Philip, he made several secret diplomatic journeys. A trip in 1428 took him to Portugal, and while there he painted a portrait of Philip's fiancée, Isabella.
The Eyckian style was based on a strong undercurrent of realism that constituted an important aspect of the development of late medieval art. Outstanding achievements of this realistic trend that may have influenced the art of Jan van Eyck include the frescoes of Tommaso da Modena in Treviso and the panel paintings of Melchior Broederlam and of Robert Campin. At the hands of van Eyck experimentation with realism resulted in an astounding minuteness of detail and an unusually fine differentiation between qualities of texture and of atmospheric light. It is thought that his careful delineation of every detail of life was intended to reflect the glory of God's creation.
Some writers have erroneously credited Jan van Eyck with the discovery of the oil technique in painting, but there can be no doubt that he played a crucial role in the perfection of this medium, achieving through its use an unprecedented richness and intensity of color. Developing a personalized technique in oils, he gradually arrived at a meticulously accurate reflection of the natural world.
Although many of his followers attempted to copy him, the distinctive quality of Jan van Eyck's work made imitation difficult. His influence on the succeeding generation of artists, both in N and S Europe, cannot be overestimated, and the entire development of Flemish painting in the 15th cent. (see Flemish art and architecture) bears the direct imprint of his style.
Of the van Eycks' works that have survived, the largest is the altarpiece in the Church of Saint Bavon in Ghent, thought on the basis of an inscription of the frame to have been a collaborative effort of the two brothers, and completed by Jan in 1432. On the panels of the exterior are shown the Annunciation and representations of St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, and the donors of the work, Jodocus Vijdt and his wife. The interior of the altar consists of an Adoration of the Lamb set in a magnificent landscape, and an upper row of panels showing God the Father flanked by the Virgin, John the Baptist, music-making angels, and Adam and Eve. Various parts of an illuminated manuscript, the Turin Hours, have also been credited to one or both brothers.
Jan van Eyck painted a number of fine portraits, which are distinguished by a crystalline objectivity and precision of draftsmanship. Among these are the Portrait of an Unknown Man (1432), thought to be the composer Gilles Binchois, and the Man with the Red Turban, possibly a self-portrait, both in London; the portrait of Jan de Leeuw (1436) in Vienna; and that of the painter's wife, Margarethe van Eyck (1439), in Bruges. The wedding picture of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Bride (1434; National Gall., London) shows the couple in a remarkable interior.
Van Eyck's interest in the texture and specific quality of material substances and his superb technical gifts are especially well demonstrated in two devotional panels, the Madonna with Chancellor Rolin in the Louvre, and the Madonna with Canon Van der Paele (1436) in Bruges. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., has a beautiful Annunciation that is generally accepted as his work. Some of Jan van Eyck's uncompleted paintings are thought to have been finished by Petrus Christus.
See studies by L. B. Philip (1972) and E. Dhanens (1973).
Barthélemy d'Eyck, van Eyck or d' Eyck , ; (ca.1420–after 1470) was an Early Netherlandish artist who worked in France and probably in Burgundy as a painter and manuscript illuminator. He was active between about 1440 to about 1469. Although no surviving works can be certainly documented as his, he was praised by contemporary authors as a leading artist of the day, and a number of important works are generally accepted as his. In particular, Barthélemy has been accepted by most experts as the identity of the artists formerly known as the Master of the Aix Annunciation for paintings, and the Master of René of Anjou for illuminated manuscripts. He is thought by many to be the Master of the Shadows responsible for parts of the calendar of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Some authorities have proposed, on stylistic grounds as well as the likely family relationship, that Barthélemy trained in the workshop of Jan van Eyck, and worked in the 1430s on the Milan-Turin Hours, a famous illuminated manuscript, much of which only survives in black-and-white photographs after its destruction in a fire. A painter called only "Barthélemy" is documented as working in Dijon for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in 1440; this may well be him. René of Anjou, who was to become Barthélemy's major patron, had been held prisoner there by Philip. By 1444 Barthélemy d'Eyck was in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France presumably working with the leading French painter Enguerrand Quarton as they witnessed a legal document together.
The Aix Annunciation, dating from 1441-1445, is now generally accepted as being by Barthélemy. It is a tryptych, now dispersed between Aix-en-Provence, Brussels, Amsterdam and Rotterdam (one of the side-panels having been cut into two pieces). It was commissioned by a cloth-merchant who knew Barthélemy's stepfather, and combines influences from the Early Netherlandish art of Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck with those of Claus Sluter who worked at Dijon, and Colantonio from Naples (although some see this last influence as flowing in the other direction). Many of the iconographic details follow those from Annunciations by Jan van Eyck and his circle, such as the Washington Annunciation. Together with a fine portrait dated 1456 (Lichtenstein Collection, Vienna), and a fragment with a small crucified Christ in the Louvre, this is the only surviving panel painting associated with him; most of his later works are illuminated manuscripts commissioned by Rene of Anjou.
René of Anjou (1409-80) was a prince of the Valois family who had a complicated range of titles and claims, including King of Naples, from which kingdom he was ejected by the Kings of Aragon by 1442. There is evidence that Barthélemy either went to Naples, or that his works were known there, as his influence has been detected in the work of the Neapolitan artists Colantonio and Antonello da Messina. René preferred to live in his territories in the South of France, or in the Loire Valley, and was a poet and amateur artist of some talent. For a long time he was thought personally responsible for the manuscript illuminations now generally attributed to Barthélemy. From about 1447 Barthélemy appears in surviving accounts as "peintre et varlet de chambre" - the same positions as Jan van Eyck held with Philip the Bold (and the Limbourg brothers had held with the Duke of Berry). A "varlet de chambre" was a court appointment of considerable status as a personal attendant to René. He travelled with René to Guyenne and on several occasions to Angers. Between 1447 and 1449 his workroom was next to René's private apartments, suggesting a considerable and unusual degree of closeness to his patron. His last appearance in the accounts is in 1469, when he was paid his own salary, plus that of three servants or assistants, and three horses. There is some evidence he lived until 1476.
Surviving illuminated works attributed to Barthélemy include a Book of Hours in the Morgan Library in New York, on which Quarton also worked, and five miniatures added to The London Hours of René of Anjou in the British Library which relate very personally and intensely to René's unhappy situation whilst imprisoned in Dijon. Harthan suggests the designs for these may have been sketched by Rene himself for Barthélemy to execute: "the faithful interpreter of the King's exalted ideas, an inseparable, discreet companion and the effective partner, perhaps, in joint artistic enterprises
The two best-known manuscripts are the Livre du cueur d'amour esprit and the Théséide, both in Vienna (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Codex 2597, 2617), dating from 1460-70, with sixteen and seven miniatures respectively. The Livre du cueur d'amour esprit was a courtly allegorical romance written (almost certainly) by René. This has spaces reserved for a further twenty-nine miniatures, and these are all completed in another manuscript by a much less brilliant artist, probably working from Barthélemy's drawings. This chivalric allegorical romance comes near the end of that tradition, and only allows Barthélemy's realism and human sympathy to be engaged in places. His exceptional skill at lighting effects is fully deployed; four of the sixteen miniatures are night scenes, and others show dawn or dusk with great brilliance. The larger and more populated scenes of the French translation of Boccaccio's Il Teseida delle nozze d'Emilia, in theory about Theseus, in practice another romance, include magnificent scenes of urban life.
A slightly earlier work, again illustrating a text by René, is the King René's Tournament Book (BnF Ms Fr 2695) which is unusual in being in watercolour, rather than tempera and on paper rather than vellum.
He is also believed by many art historians to be the Master of the Shadows who added to the illustration of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry in the mid 15th century, long after the Limbourg brothers had produced the most famous miniatures (they and the Duke died in 1416, leaving the manuscript unfinished and unbound). By then the book may have belonged to Rene. The calendar scene for September, probably only partly by this master, shows the chateau at Saumur, which René owned, and where he spent much of the 1460s. He also painted the main calendar scenes for March (perhaps only in part), October and December. His spatial awareness was greater than that of the Limbourgs, and he included shadows, which are a very marked feature of the miniatures of Barthélemy. His faces, especially those of peasants, are more sharply individualised, although his figures are less elegant. Only these calendar scenes, and possibly the faces in the double-page Procession of St Gregory (Walther & Wolf, op cit), show his style; many other miniatures were added a generation later by Jean Colombe.
Arts: Magical Realism ; Jan Van Eyck's Style of Painting Seemed Miraculous to His Contemporaries. Divine, Even. Then They Tried to Copy It. as a New Exhibition Devoted to the Artist and His Influence Opens, TOM LUBBOCK Considers His Extraordinary Skill
Apr 09, 2002; Sometimes a piece of art strikes perfection. There is no imaginable room for improvement. It hits the nail on the head. In the...