Hubert and Jan van Eyck. The Ghent Altarpiece. Oil on wood, 350 x 461 cm. St Bavo Cathedral, Ghent

Online study days

The Ghent Altarpiece: exploring the van Eycks’ masterpiece

  • Begins: Thursday 16 July 2020
    Until: Thursday 30 July 2020
  • Lecturer: Dr Paula Nuttall

Please note that this event will now be presented online in one-hour sessions over three weeks. It will be delivered via Zoom and you will need to be familiar with this app in order to participate – we do not have the capacity to provide any back-up or advice on the use of Zoom. We recommend that you log on to Zoom 15 minutes before the start time of the event even if you are familiar with the app since the process can take some time if a lot of participants are logging on at the same time. You will receive an email the day before the lecture with details of how to join the event. If you do not receive it please check your spam/junk mail folder.


Completed in 1432, the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck (the focus of the acclaimed exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent that was forced to close in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic) is a milestone in the history of art, the first datable work to be painted in the dazzlingly virtuosic, naturalistic style of the Netherlandish ars nova.  The three lectures will look at the Altarpiece in depth, interrogating the problem of its authorship and original appearance, unpacking its imagery and meaning, recounting its later history, and exploring some of the discoveries to have emerged during its recent restoration.


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

Thursday 16 July 2020, 11am-12pm
Who painted the Ghent Altarpiece? Hubert and Jan van Eyck, and other problems.

Thursday 23 July, 2020, 11am-12pm
What does it mean?  Interpreting the Ghent Altarpiece.

Thursday 30 July 2020, 11am-12pm
What happened to the Ghent Altarpiece?  The afterlife and restoration of a masterpiece.


Dr Paula Nuttall is an art historian specialising in the Renaissance, with a particular interest in artistic relations between Italy and the Netherlands. She has published widely on this topic, and has contributed to major exhibitions, including Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution (Ghent, 2020). Former Course Director of the V&A Late Medieval to Early Renaissance Year Course and Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld, she lectures for the V&A, London Art History Society and the Arts Society.

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