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Art History Research Paper

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Imagine pondering into a reconstruction of reality through only the visual sense. Without tasting, smelling, touching, or hearing, it may be hard to find oneself in an alternate universe through a piece of art work, which was the artist’s intended purpose. The eyes serve a much higher purpose than to view an object, the absorptions of electromagnetic waves allows for one to endeavor on a journey and enter a world of no limitation. During the 15th century, specifically the Early Renaissance, Flemish altarpieces swept Europe with their strong attention to details. Works of altarpieces were able to encompass significant details that the audience may typically only pay a cursory glance. The size of altarpieces was its most obvious feat but also its most important. Artists, such as Jan van Eyck, Melchior Broederlam, and Robert Campin, contributed to the vast growth of the Early Renaissance by enhancing visual effects with the use of pious symbols. Jan van Eyck embodied the “rebirth” later labeled as the Renaissance by employing his method of oils at such a level that he was once credited for being the inventor of oil painting. Although van Eyck, Broederlam, and Campin each contributed to the rise of the Early Renaissance, van Eyck’s altarpiece Adoration of the Mystic Lamb epitomized the artworks produced during this time period by vividly incorporating symbols to reconstruct the teachings of Christianity.

Van Eyck’s work of the Ghent Altarpiece was not simply a representation of symbols that alluded to Christianity. Van Eyck’s vivid sense of the actual world allowed him to be able to reconstruct reality along with its endless limitations. His audience was so extensively involved with his paintings that it may seem almost esoteric. T...


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...edium; this led to his mastery of creating an altarpiece that was able to reconstruct the Early Renaissance into a painting. His meticulous placement of figures and attention to the miniscule details reflected his success as a painter that was able to turn the unpaintable, infinite reality into a finite piece of work.



Works Cited

Dhanens, Elisabeth. Van Eyck: the Ghent Altarpiece. New York: Viking, 1973. Print.
Denis, Valentin. All the Paintings of Jan Van Eyck. New York: Hawthorn, 1961. Print.
Faggin, Giorgio T and Hughes, Robert. The Complete Paintings of the Van Eycks. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1976. Print.
Philip, Lotte Brand. The Ghent Altarpiece and the Art of Jan Van Eyck. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1971. Print.
Rousseau, Theodore. "The Merode Altarpiece." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16.4 (1957): 117-29. JSTOR. Web. 1 Apr. 2010.


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