Jan Van Eyck: The 1st of the Renaissance


Portrait of a Man by Jan Van Eyck.

Born in Maaseik between 1380-1395, Jan van Eyck created 25 paintings, a surprisingly low number for a long career.  All of them are dated between 1432 through 1439.   He signed only ten of his works.  He signed the the Ghent altarpiece, for example, with the date and a variation of his motto, ALS IK KAN meaning As I (Eyck) can.  Always written in Greek, ALS IK KAN is a pun on his name.  He worked for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, for most of his career.  The Duke paid him an unusual salary. Usually, an artist received payment for an individual piece of art.  The unique arrangement allowed Eyck to paint without worrying about payment.  He painted a variety of works including commissioned portraits, donor portraits (kneeling before a seated Virgin Mary) and altarpieces. He worked on panels: single panels, diptych, triptychs, and polyptychs.  He placed emphasis on naturalism and realism.  Considered the father of oil painting, Jan van Eyck always used oil in his paintings.  Because oil dried slowly, he spent time blending the oil colors exactly.  This Flemish painter, one of the first painters of the Renaissance, influenced the next generation of artists.


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