In 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) pays tribute to the Flemish Master Jan van Eyck with the exhibition 'Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution' (01.02-30.04.2020). The museum promises the visitor a once-in-a-lifetime experience that makes the world of Van Eyck more tangible than ever.

A month before the end of the early-bird promotion, the MSK revealed a new series of artworks that are traveling to Ghent. And the message is clear: with 9 artworks by Van Eyck, several pieces from his studio and some 100 international masterpieces from the late-Middle Ages, the MSK is making good on its promise already! Never before could so many works by Van Eyck be admired in one place.

Jan van Eyck: the master of the art of the late-Middle Ages
As a painter of the Burgundian duke Philip the Good (1396-1467), and working for the flamboyant court and the wealthy inhabitants of cities such as Bruges and Ghent, Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390-1441) towered above his contemporaries. With his unprecedented technique, scientific knowledge and unparalleled powers of observation, Van Eyck lifted oil painting to previously unknown heights and determined the course of Western painting.

Never before had a painter made reality so tangible, with portraits in which only the actual breath is lacking and landscapes that show the world in all its facets. It is this vision, this 'optical revolution', that the MSK brings to the forefront in the exhibition which opens on 1 February 2020. In it, the museum will place Van Eyck next to his greatest contemporaries.

More Van Eyck than ever before
Central within the exhibition are the eight restored exterior panels of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, a highly exceptional loan from St Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent.  Never before were all eight exterior panels brought together in an exhibition outside the cathedral, and never before have they interacted with other works by Van Eyck or his contemporaries. Moreover, the panels shall never again leave the cathedral after 2020, making the exhibition in the MSK both the first and last chance to view the panels up close and in a broader context.

In total, the MSK is already revealing 9 pieces by Van Eyck that will travel to Ghent next year:

  • Jan and Hubert van Eyck, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, 1432 (exterior panels)
    St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent
  • Jan van Eyck, The Madonna by the Fountain, 1439
    Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
  • Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Baudouin de Lannoy, c.1435
    Gemäldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin
  • Jan van Eyck, The Annunciation diptych, c. 1433 – 1435
    Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
  • Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a Man with Blue Chaperon, c. 1428−1430
    Muzeul National Brukenthal, Sibiu (Romania)
  • Jan van Eyck, Saint Barbara of Nicomedia, 1437
    Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
  • Jan van Eyck and studio, Madonna by the Fountain, c. 1440
    Private collection
  • Jan van Eyck, The Annunciation, c. 1434-1436
    Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
  • Hand G (Jan van Eyck), The Turin-Milan Book of Hours, c. 1420-1440
    Palazzo Madama, Turin

With this press release, the message is thus official: never before were there so many Van Eycks to be seen in a single place. Moreover, the MSK is adding to this impressive series important works from the artist's studio and fifteenth and sixteenth-century copies of paintings by Van Eyck of which the original has been lost over the centuries.

But it doesn’t end there. Today, nine months before the opening, the MSK does not wish to show all of its cards just yet. In the autumn, the museum will announce the final list of all Van Eycks that will be shown in the exhibition.

International tour de force
In order to make Jan van Eyck's optical revolution tangible, the MSK is placing his works alongside art from his most talented contemporaries. Like van Eyck, they moved in the highest circles of society and were the top artists of their time. In total, the exhibition is bringing together more than 100 paintings, miniatures, sculptures and drawings from the (late) Middle Ages. In order to bring so many masterpieces to Ghent, the MSK can count upon the support of major Belgian and international partners.

Esteemed names such as the Vatican Museum or the Galleria Doria Pamhilj in Rome, the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin or the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles belong to the many partners that are proving their works on loan.

Don't miss the exhibition (and your early-bird ticket)!
'Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution' unravels the myths about the artist and his technique, and shows  his oeuvre and his influence in a new perspective. The exhibition aims to provoke in the visitor the same feeling of admiration as his contemporaries felt when they saw his work for the first time: a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tickets are now on sale via the website: Whoever purchases a ticket before July shall pay 22 euros per person instead of 28 euros at the ticket counter during the exhibition. Anyone who definitely wants to be there and also take advantage of an extra discount better not wait too long!

Published on 15.05.19