Artist: Jan van Eyck (Netherlandish, Maaseik ca. 1390–1441 Bruges) and Workshop Assistant
Date: ca. 1440–41
Medium: Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions: Each 22 1/4 x 7 2/3 in. (56.5 x 19.7 cm)
Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1933
Accession Number: 33.92ab
Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, wrote in 1435 that Van Eyck, his court painter, was unequalled in his “art and science.” Modern critiques have praised Van Eyck for his ability to combine observations seemingly viewed through a microscope and a telescope. In The Crucifixion, he evokes a remarkable range of emotions among the crowds against a landscape depicting Jerusalem and western European architecture, and his portrayal of nature likely reflects firsthand experience of the Alps, gained on a diplomatic mission in 1426 to Italy and the Holy Lands. His vision appears no less acute in conveying palpable messages of inevitable judgment and hopeful salvation in The Last Judgment. The paintings were meant to be experienced simultaneously with the excerpts from Isaiah, Revelations, and Deuteronomy found on the original frames (on view here).