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Thou Shalt Covet: The Gothic Masterpiece Everyone Wants


Blog of the Courtier

One of the most celebrated – and coveted – paintings in all of Western art is the altarpiece known as “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”, located in the city of Ghent in present-day Belgium.  It is believed to have been painted between 1430-1432, by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, although today the general consensus is that Hubert was responsible for the overall design, and Jan for the actual execution.  Also known simply as “The Ghent Altarpiece”, this massive work is really a series of twenty-four paintings on twelve wooden panels, connected together in a hinged framework that, when fully opened, measures over 12 feet high and 17 feet wide.  Try hanging that above the sofa in the den.

Now thanks to some very generous donors, the work is undergoing an equally massive, five-year restoration and conservation program.  Restorers have been painstakingly scraping off layers of old…

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