Art Review: The Detailed, Rich and Mysterious Work of Jan van Eyc

By Jason Farago
A detail from “The Last Judgment,” by Jan van Eyck and his workshop, an oil on canvas transferred from wood, made around 1440. The work is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit Metropolitan Museum of Art
A few months ago I made a long-imagined pilgrimage to Ghent, Belgium, to see at last one of the signal achievements in Western painting: Jan van Eyck’s altarpiece for St. Bavo’s Cathedral, painted in 1432. It left me at a loss for words, but I am hardly the first to be dumbfounded by van Eyck. For centuries, the crystalline exactitude of his paintings — so precise as to be almost nonhuman — has elicited less inspiration than speechless, helpless awe. “A New Look at a van Eyck Masterpiece” runs through April 24 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 212-535-7710, metmuseum­.org. [link]/>
A detail from “The Crucifixion,” a 15th-century oil by Jan van Eyck. Metropolitan Museum of Art

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