New Website for the Ghent Altarpiece

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (

Last summer I announced a preview for a new website on Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s Polyptych of the Mystic Lamb, commonly called the Ghent Altarpiece. The completed site, called “Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece,” is now online. Created by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium, and funded by a grant from the Getty Foundation, this site lets you explore this Early Netherlandish masterpiece up close. In addition to high-resolution macrophotography that allows you to zoom in on minute details, there are also x-rays and infrared images that allow you to look beneath the surface of the paint. The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage has been one of the pioneers in such technical examinations of works of art since the 1950s.

You can visit the site here, and read the Getty’s press release here.

New Website for the Ghent Altarpiece

IRR detail of an angel in the Ghent Altarpiece

Infrared detail of an angel in the Ghent Altarpiece, showing the underdrawing (IRR assembly from

Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels has created a new website for images of the Van Eyck brothers’ celebrated Ghent Altarpiece, one of the most important works of Northern Renaissance art.

Only a preview version of the site is currently available, and its images are limited to infrared reflectography made during the recent restoration of the altarpiece. Infrared reflectography (IRR) is a tool in the technical examination of a painting to reveal the preliminary sketches, or underdrawings, that lie beneath the paint surface. These underdrawings often provide clues to the artistic process, such as what changes the artist made along the way, or even who the artist was.

The full site is expected to launch in January 2012, and it will presumably also contain full-color views and details of the altarpiece.

You can read a description of the project here, or visit the preview site at