The altarpiece is made up of multiple panels, and is 15 feet wide and 11 feet tall when fully opened. The painter of the panel, Jan Van Eyck, is considered to be one of the most technical and talented artists of his generation. The restoration was completed late in December last year, but the results only recently started to make headlines and garner attention on social media. Belgium's Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (RICH), which led the restoration, said the overpaint was removed incrementally over three years to reveal the original sheep. The head of restoration, Hélène Dubois, described the unveiled face as “cartoonish” and “a shock for everybody” in an interview with The Art Newspaper. “There are no words to express the result,” they said in a statement on the royal institute’s website. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. "The choice for removing the overpaint was carefully weighed out, and it was fully supported by all involved," the institute said. With 80% of the funding coming from the government, “it’s only fair that we inform people about what’s happening”, she says. Video, 'This is War': Polandâs battle for abortion, When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Million-euro makeover for Belgium's Ghent Altarpiece, 'This is War': Polandâs battle for abortion. On 24 January, the panel will be returned to St Bavo's Cathedral, where it will be put on public display. VideoWhen can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? The restoration has brought out many subtle details, such as the wrinkled neck of the grey horse in the painting of the knights of Christ and the different textures of mud, rocky ground and wet sand on which the figures walk in the lower panels. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. For centuries, its central panel – titled Adoration of the Mystic Lamb – featured a demure sheep (the Lamb of God) being sacrificed on an altar as a representation of Jesus Christ. Painstaking operation to return Adoration of the Lamb to its former glory has left many speechless, Last modified on Wed 22 Jan 2020 13.20 EST. The bottom panels are part of the second phase of the restoration. Restoring the Ghent Altarpiece may well exceed the years it took for Flemish brothers Jan and Hubert Van Eyck to create their wondrously detailed 12 … “And nothing like this had ever been observed on early Netherlandish painting.” The discovery came as “a shock for everybody—for us, for the church, for all the scholars, for the international committee following this project”, she says. New Research on the Ghent Altarpiece Validates Restorers’ Rendering of the Mystic Lamb’s Alarmingly Humanoid Face The animal’s soul-penetrating gaze was painted over by … widely considered to be the first major artwork to use oil paint, in a statement on the royal institute’s website, most frequently stolen paintings of all time, head was replaced with a completely differently-coloured material. The lamb has been described as having an "alarmingly humanoid face" with "penetrating, close-set eyes, full pink lips and flared nostrils" by the Smithsonian Magazine. Under the overpainting, the conservation team found dirty varnish and clumsy touch-ups applied directly to the wood panel. Some said they felt it would have been better to not restore the lamb's original face. The Ghent lamb now joins other shocking artistic works such as the bust of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo in Madeira in Portugal, the repainted statue of St George in Estella in Spain, and the baby Jesus statue in Ontario in Canada whose head was replaced with a completely differently-coloured material. What's going on with Scottish independence? The Ghent Altarpiece, completed by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck in 1432, has captivated the art world for centuries. Despite the wealth of prior research conducted on the altarpiece, it was only during the KIK-IRPA restoration that scientists made an astonishing discovery: beneath the layers of yellowed and cloudy varnish, around 70% of the outer panels was obscured by 16th-century overpainting. People have tracked down the mystery Utah monolith. He has refused to concede the election but says he will quit if Joe Biden's victory is confirmed. “This overpainting had been done so early on, and following the shapes of the original, with very similar pigments that had also aged in a similar way, that it was not actually visible on the technical documentation when the altarpiece first came in for treatment,” recalls Hélène Dubois, the head of the restoration project. In the future, the site will be further extended with “Nothing like this had ever been observed on early Netherlandish painting,” Dubois said. A restoration of one of the world’s most famous paintings has been described as “a shock for everybody” after it revealed a depiction of a sheep with extremely human-like eyes. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. The restorers observed many compositional changes that pre-date 1550 and are consistent with Jan’s “technique and vision”, as well as “weaker” elements that could be the work of studio assistants, Dubois says. Another artist had altered the Lamb of God, a symbol for Jesus depicted at the centre of the panel. Analysis confirmed the overpainting could be removed without damaging the original because an earlier layer of varnish “was acting as a buffer between the two”, Dubois says. The overpainting was complete by 1557, when Michiel Coxcie made a copy of the altarpiece for Philip II. Video, US election: Trump signals he is prepared to leave White House, Utah monolith: Internet sleuths got there, but its origins are still a mystery, Thailand: Rare and 'ancient' whale skeleton discovered, China slaps up to 200% tariffs on Australian wine, Outrage as Italian TV show gives 'sexy shopping' advice, Paris police officers suspended over beating of black music producer, Diego Maradona: Footballer laid to rest as Argentina grieves, Halima Aden quits runway modelling over religious views, US election results: Why the most accurate bellwether counties were wrong, Singapore: Jolovan Wham charged for holding up a smiley face sign, How Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece transformed art forever, The world's most expensive stolen paintings, told the Art Newspaper the original lamb had a more "intense interaction with the onlookers". You may need to add the address email@example.com to your safe list so it isn't automatically moved to your junk folder. Taken away by the Nazis during World War Two and Napoleon's troops in the 1700s, the altarpiece is thought to be one of the most frequently stolen artworks of all time. Described by the Smithsonian Magazine as “alarmingly humanoid”, the new Ghent lamb now sports larger, more vibrant eyes and a more detailed, flared pink nose. https://t.co/cqSzWAtiYz. The central panel featuring the lamb will be returned to the cathedral on 24 January, where it will be put on display for the public in an event titled “The return of the Lamb”. Like the restoration team, others have expressed astonishment at the lamb's face. Only 5% of the original paint was lost, curators said. 'This is War': Polandâs battle for abortion. Subscribe to The Art Newspaper’s digital newsletter for your daily digest of essential news, views and analysis from the international art world delivered directly to your inbox. The Ghent Altarpiece, completed by Hubert and Jan van Eyck in 1432, is a 15th-century masterpiece in St Bavo’s Cathedral in Belgium, widely considered to be the first major artwork to use oil paint. Â© 2020 BBC. “Botanists can actually identify every plant in there,” Dubois points out. Our daily newsletter contains a round-up of the stories published on our website, previews of exhibitions that are opening and more. What people think the past was like vs what the past was really like: https://t.co/GMSujtYQip, the lamb of the ghent altarpiece was a mistake and whoever painted over it was right to do so https://t.co/omRu9ieCfn. Uh, so apparently they restored the Ghent Altarpiece and pic.twitter.com/JljwfEZlzu, Therapist: The uncovered face of the Lamb of God in the Ghent Altarpiece isn't real. They also reinstated the crystalline look of the draped robes worn by the pilgrims worshipping the lamb, which had been softened in the overpainting. Video'This is War': Polandâs battle for abortion. The sheep was painted over by a different artist in 1550, but a multi-million-dollar restoration has now revealed the original, startling face of the titular ovine. Find out how The Art Newspaper’s content platforms can help you reach an informed, influential body of collectors, cultural and creative professionals. “But now you can really see [his work] and that will be a revelation for people.”. Most surprising of all was the lamb’s humanised face, which emerged beneath its more animal 16th-century appearance. Postcode check - what is the new tier for your area? But Dubois is confident that the “incredible quality” of the painting will meet them. Since October 2012, Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) has led a transformative €2.2m altarpiece conservation project in full view of the public, within a specially constructed laboratory at Ghent’s Museum of Fine Arts. The restoration of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers (more commonly known as the Ghent Altarpiece) started at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) in October 2012.
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