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Facing van Eyck

BOZAR draws the Van Eyck year of 2020 to a close with an interactive digital exhibition that allows you to explore the mastery of the painter in the finest detail. The exhibition 'Facing van Eyck' runs until 14 February 2021. Through a video projection based on extremely high-resolution images made by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA), you can navigate around the entire oeuvre of paintings by Jan van Eyck. Visitors can hop from one detail to the next, from the upper layer to the ground layer, or from one painting to another. This enables everyone to go on an intuitive and poetic journey through the universe of Jan van Eyck. In partnership with Musea Brugge, the presentation also includes a video interview with Till-Holger Borchert, discussing the context of the work of Jan van Eyck and the influence of the Byzantine icons on the Flemish Primitives’  imagery.   

Even in the 16th century, the great masters of the Italian renaissance spoke of the success of the Flemish Primitives’ paintings. It is beyond dispute that the pioneer of this detailed brushwork was Jan van Eyck.

For the Ghent Altarpiece, Closer to Van Eyck and the KIK developed a standardized protocol for high-resolution scientific documentation. Using this protocol as a starting point, the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) has photographed over the past six years all the other paintings by Jan van Eyck and his studio in exactly the same way. This was part of the VERONA project (Van Eyck Research in OpeN Access, 2014-2020). These high-resolution images are available to all at

Under the curatorship of Bart Fransen (KIK), these images are integrated in a new visitor experience for 'Facing van Eyck'. All twenty of the paintings attributed to Jan van Eyck, scattered among collections all over the world, are now brought together virtually in a single space. Whether they choose to zoom in on landscapes, architecture, textiles, human figures, everyday objects or to navigate from a lion in a painting from Vienna to a similar motif in a work from Antwerp, the visitors create their own route as they go. Music reinforces the experience, thanks to a soundscape created especially for the exhibition by Belgian composer Benjamin Glorieux.

'Facing van Eyck' not only offers a poetic and scientific experience, but also places it in a broader context. Till-Holger Borchert – director of Musea Brugge and specialist par excellence in 15th-century painting - delves into the history of Van Eyck and places him in his historical, artistic, and religious context. By looking more closely into the reception and appropriation of Byzantine models in Van Eyck’s work, the richly illustrated film explores the religious and artistic exchanges between East and West in the 15th century.   

More information

Image: Macrophotography of Jan van Eyck’s Virgin and Child with Canon Joris van der Paele (detail), 1436, oil on panel, Groeningemuseum Brugge ©:, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels

(news item 1 December 2020)