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The Adoration of the Lamb

CATHEDRAL OF ST BAVON, GHENT, BELGIUM

JAN VAN EYCK

1390 - 1441

The Painting

This is an altarpiece containing panels of several different paintings. They include Mary, Jesus, Adam and Eve, and singing angels. Notice the beauty and intricacies. The central part of this painting is in the lower panels. Focus your study on these panels. Notice that there are several groups coming to the center. · · · · · · · · Describe each group. Notice their clothing. What social status or religious groupings seem to be represented? What or who are they approaching? Describe the Lamb. Is the Lamb alive? Has the Lamb died? Who does the Lamb represent? What evidence would you give to support your answer? Describe the singers....Mary....John the Baptist....and Jesus in other portions of this majestic work. Turn the reproduction over and describe the other parts of the painting.

The Principle

Dr. Francis Schaeffer explains that "most impressive is the central theme: the rich, the poor - people of all classes and backgrounds - coming to Christ. And who is this Christ? Van Eyck comprehended the Biblical understanding of Christ as the Lamb of God who died on the cross to take away the moral guilt of those who accept Him as Savior. But this Christ is not now dead. He stands upright and alive on the altar, symbolizing that He died as the substitute, sacrificed, but He now lives! As van Eyck painted this, almost certainly he had Jesus' own words in mind, as Christ speaks in the Apocalypse, the last book in the Bible: `I am the living one that became dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and I have the keys of death and Hades.'" (How Should We Then Live?, page 66).

The Painter

While Masaccio was working out techniques of perspective for the Italian Renaissance painters, Jan van Eyck was working in Northern Europe under the influence of Reformation thought. He too painted people and objects in their proper place - just as if you could see into the painting. If Masaccio is `The Father of Renaissance Art', Jan van Eyck is `The Father of Reformation Art.' Van Eyck mastered light and landscape as well as discovering oil painting, a technique in which linseed oil serves as the solvent for pigment rather than egg, which was used in the Italian technique of tempera. This technique allows for greater beauty and delicacy in art.

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