A New Look at a Van Eyck Masterpiece

The Crucifixion and Last Judgment

Exhibition Website

- Apr 24 2016

This focus exhibition presents the findings of a recent study of the Crucifixion and Last Judgment paintings (ca. 1440–41) by Jan van Eyck and his workshop.

These paintings and their frames have undergone technical investigations in an effort to solve long-standing mysteries about them. Whether the paintings were always intended as a diptych, or whether they were originally the wings of a triptych or the doors of a tabernacle, has been in question. The answer may be found not only in a closer look at the frames, but also in the relationship of the Metropolitan's Crucifixion painting to a recently rediscovered drawing of the Crucifixion attributed to Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390–1441) that has been acquired by the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, and is also on view in the exhibition.

New infrared reflectography now affords an opportunity to compare the underdrawings of the Crucifixion and Last Judgment paintings with the Rotterdam drawing. In addition, X-radiography of the paintings' frames has revealed another text, albeit very damaged and fragmentary, on the flat part of the frame beneath the gold overpaint. The text is in Flemish, in Gothic miniscule script, as opposed to the Latin pastiglia (raised lettering) on the interior cove of the two frames. This introduces new clues regarding the original form and function of the two paintings, as the exhibition demonstrates.

Credit: Exhibition Overview from the Met Museum website

Whether you go or not, An Eyckian Crucifixion Explored: Ten Essays On A Drawing  includes the story of Wim Hofman, a psychiatrist and art collector who bought a drawing as a reproduction for just ten guilders at a local estate auction. He was convinced, however, and rightly so, that it was an
original work of art, and he spent the rest of his life researching it. In fact, it turned out to be the drawing of the Crucifixion attributed to Jan van Eyck, mentioned above.  In this book leading specialists examine various aspects of this mysterious drawing its discovery, the scientific and technical research into the materials, and the identity of the artist.

  • Painting
  • European
  • 15th - 17th Century
  • Sacred
  • Jan van Eyck

Exhibition Venues & Dates