About this artwork

The most important scene on the closed wings is undoubtebly the one showing the Archangel Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary a key occurrence in Christian iconography. The painter has combined the four panels to form a single space albeit one viewed from several perspectives. god's messenger appears in an attractive Flemish interiaor that looks out onto a street in medieval Ghent. Mary raises her eyes from her prayerbook. Gabriel holding a lily to symbolise Mary's virginity hails her with the words (Greetings most favoured one! The Lord is with you.' He brings Mary the message that the Holy Spirit of Gad shall descend upon her and that she will become the mother of the Messiah the son of God. The Holy Spirit in the guise of a dove hovers aboce her as she responds 'Here am I the servant of the Lord.' With these words Mary affirm her commitment to God's plan allowing the salvation of humanity through the incarnation of Christ to begin. The prophet Zacharias in the lunette on the left was viewed like Micah an the right as one of the seers who most clearly foretold the advent of the Messiah in Bethlehem. Van Eyck chose the two to stand for the biblical prophets of Christ's birth.

About the artist

Jan van Eyck was born around 1400 in the Limburg town of Maaseik. Around 1432 he settled in Bruges. There he had, until his death in 1441, a studio with a large number of employees. Van Eyck's representation of light and its effects on the visible world represented a fundamental innovation in art. He was the first to succeed in convincingly evoking a tangible reality in painting.More about Jan Van Eyck

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