study days

The Ghent Altarpiece: exploring the van Eycks’ masterpiece

  • Friday 27 March 2020
  • Brockway Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
  • Lecturer: Dr Paula Nuttall

Completed in 1432, the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck (the focus of an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent in early 2020) is a milestone in the history of art, the first datable work to be painted in the dazzlingly naturalistic style known as the Netherlandish ars nova, employing the newly perfected oil medium. This study day will look at the altarpiece in depth, placing it within the wider scope of the Van Eycks’ output; unpacking its imagery and meaning; interrogating the problem of its authorship and original appearance; recounting its later history; and exploring some of the discoveries to have emerged during its current restoration.

Programme for the day     

The four lectures that comprise the day are couched in terms of a series of questions about the Altarpiece, to which we shall explore the answers.

1. Why is it important? The Ghent Altarpiece, the Van Eycks and art history.

2. What does it mean? Reading the Ghent Altarpiece.

3. Who painted the Ghent Altarpiece? Hubert van Eyck, and other problems.

4. What happened to the Ghent Altarpiece? The afterlife and restoration of a masterpiece.



Dr Paula Nuttall gained her BA and PhD from the Courtauld, writing her doctoral thesis on the reception of Netherlandish painting in fifteenth-century Florence. She is Director of the V&A’s Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Year Course, and she lectures for a range of other institutions including the National Gallery, Christie’s Education and The Arts Society.

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Event Postponed due to Coronavirus

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