Hi, my name is Thinkie, welcome to my blog!
I'm a student in cultural studies, a museum enthusiast, a scrapbooker and an art journaler. I love to travel within Europe and I enjoy photography. You can read more about me on my homepage.

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Bruges & Ghent Day 3

After breakfast on 28 April we headed for the trainstation. We took a train to Ghent, for another day of Jan van Eyck. I'm a proper Van Eyck groupie! ;-)

We visited a bookmarket with lots of books on art in front of the Museum of Fine Arts. Travelling with a bookjunkie meant a short stroll along the stalls, which resulted in bumping into my 'boss' Maartje, the director of Museum Meermanno. We chatted for a bit and then Roeland and I headed into the museum.

The Ghent Altarpiece by Hubert and Jan van Eyck is currently undergoing restauration. This is being done in a workshop behind a glass window at the Museum of Fine Arts. Since it was sunday, no one was working, but the outer panels were displayed near the window for a good view. I had seen them before, during my visit to St. Baafs Cathedral in 2008, but now I had a better view and added knowledge from my studies. I spent as much time in the room (with just a quick break to see the older works of the collection, which I had seen before in early 2012) as Roeland needed to see all of the permanent collection of the museum :-)
They're removing a layer of varnish that was applied during a restoration in 1950 and in some places the pigments have to be fixated. The restoration offers a chance to do extensive research with all kinds of techniques, as did the research that was done to determine whether a restoration was neccesary and if so, to what extend.
Part of the panels that were on view show an annunciation scene, and after spending quite some time in awe in front of Jan van Eycks Annunciation in the exhibition 'The Road to Van Eyck' in Boijmans last winter I looked at this scene with a different eye than I did before. This annunciation is set inside a bourgeois house, while the other (painted 2-4 years after the Ghent Altarpiece was finished) is situated in a church. Gabriel's face has some likeness with his other self, but he's less of the shy, blushing youngling. Maria isn't as pretty, she looks like the singing angels in the upper register of the inner panels. Her shoulders seem odd. Here, too, the words she speaks are placed upside down, showning that they are meant for god above. The holy ghost, in the form of a dove, is large and almost lands on her head. The scene is depicted in less detail, but still, WOW! Lots of folds in their clothing, which is clearly made of a different kind of fabric than that of donor Joost Vijdt on one of the other panels. Usually Gabriel and Maria are seperated by two narrow panels showing more of the interior, it was interesting to see them placed closer together. The infrared photo's show that the orinigal form of the upper part of windows in the annunciation scene was different, more elaborate, I wonder if this suggests that the original intent was a church-like setting after all. I wonder why the ceiling beam on Maria's side has a corbel at the end while the one on Gabriel's side doesn't.
The donors are clearly individuals, althoug depicted in less detail than Joris van der Paele with his wrinkles (who dates from a few years after the Ghent Alterpiece was finished). I really enjoy being able to compare Van Eyck's works like this!
The shadow of the lamb's nose on John the Baptist's shoulder...
I can't wait to see what restauration will do to the colours! Right now, the colours are more muted than they used to be, they will look more clear when the restauration is finished. Now that the varnish has been removed, the contrasts and shadows are clearer. Some damage is showing, mostly along the edges. They plan to finish the restoration in October 2017, I'm hoping to visit the workshop a couple more times in the upcoming years when they are working on other panels and to actually see people in action.

Outside, the weather was nice. We got some bread and some ham and turkey and made ourselves sandwiches, sitting on a bench in the sun with a view of St. Peters Abbey. After lunch it was time to visit one of my favorite places in Ghent: chocolatebar Quetzal, where we sipped from cups filled with (barely) liquid heaven. Ohhhh, yeah! ;-)

We walked around the city center for a while and got Wilma some birthdaypresents at the nice giftshop of the Huis van Alijn.


Mrs. van Eyck was visiting Ghent as well...

Then we visited the Caermensklooster, where an exhibition is held about the restauration of the Ghent Altarpiece. Historical and technical information, a real size infrared scan of the altar piece, and models and plans for how to exhibit the altar piece after restauration. Nice! Some of the plans speak of taking the altar piece apart and showing them seperately from each other within one exhibition space. Yikes! I'm not a fan of that!

Last time I visited Ghent, this was being built, it was a bit of a surprise to find it completed. Not sure what to think of it...

We walked to the St. Baafs, where there was still time for a quick visit to the . It was great to see it again, I'm curious to see it change over the next couple of years!
We did a quick round of the rest of the cathedral and then headed for the trainstation. Full trains and a delay on our way home, dinner at Antwerp Central Station.
What a great weekend, filled with Jan van Eyck, Roeland, Hans Memling, chocolate... ;-) I had a really good time!

More on the Ghent Altarpiece:
Filmed items on the restoration
The closest look you'll ever get

The photo of me with hot chocolate was taken by Roeland, the rest by me

Geplaatst op 26-05-2013.
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dat merkwaardige gebouw is duidelijk geinspireerd op een ouderwetse ponskaart. Misschien bedacht door een inmiddels gepensioneerde datatypist?

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