It's a fairly cool painting to see, if you happen to be in Ghent/Brussels/Bruges, and are interested in the Northern Renaissance. It also has a really interesting history besides what the OP posted about how it has been "stolen" multiple times, taken apart and put back together multiple times, and even today is missing some panels and nobody (besides the owner(s) presumably) has any idea where the missing pieces are (you can read the full story on the wikipedia page OP linked). It's in the main Cathedral in Ghent, which is fairly nice for a Gothic cathedral, in this dark room off to the side. It is free to get into the church but you have to pay and muscle your way through a crowd to get to the altarpiece, so whether or not it is worth it is a matter of debate I suppose, but it is a very good example of the Northern Renaissance. Ghent on the other hand is a gorgeous city, in my opinion it is much nicer than either Brussels or Bruges, and definitely worth visiting if you find yourself in Belgium.
The Ghent Altarpiece (also called the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb or The Lamb of God, Dutch: Het Lam Gods) is a very large and complex early 15th-century Early Flemish polyptych panel painting. Commissioned and designed as an altarpiece, it comprises 12 panels, eight of which are hinged shutters painted on either side, giving two distinct views depending on whether they are open or closed. Except for Sundays and festive holidays, the outer wings were closed and covered with cloth. It was begun by Hubert van Eyck who was most likely responsible for the overall design, but died in 1426. Probably, the individual panels were executed by his younger and better known brother Jan van Eyck between 1430 and 1432. Although there have been extensive attempts to isolate passages attributable to either brother, no separation has been convincingly established. Most art historians accept that it was probably designed and constructed by Hubert and the panels were painted by Jan.
Sep 21, 2009