September 07, 2003
A copy of a copy of a copy of a great painting

Here is a very interesting exhibition of paintings:

Unfortunately, this exhibition can only take place in a virtual form. Its very principle of selection prevents us from offering physical access to the works on show. There are benefits, however, as well as frustrations. There are no queues. The actual works remain, by definition, out of reach, and only their reproduced image – which might be an old, faded, black-and-white photograph, or a copy done by another artist, perhaps merely on the basis of a written description – circulate.

I'm sticking up this particular picture from it here because it looks like a pretty good one to me, because it looks great on my screen and with luck therefore will also look good on yours, because I was able to copy it (often you can't), and because it is the right shape to make a big impact in a blog entry.

VanEyck.jpg

Here's the blurb from the guardian site:

Jan and Hubert Van Eyck, The Just Judges, 1432

The most amazing thing is not how many masterpieces go missing or get destroyed but that something so fragile as art survives for any length of time at all. The vicissitudes of an early, wonderful work by Jan van Eyck and his brother are incredible. The Ghent altarpiece finished in 1432, was rescued from rioting Reformation iconoclasts in the 16th-century, only to be dismembered and carted off to Paris by Napoleon. After Waterloo, panels were sold, then finally reassembled after the first world war. Today it is once more, and hopefully for a long time to come, the masterpiece admired by Albrecht Dürer 500 years ago. Well, nearly. In 1934 one panel, depicting The Just Judges, was stolen. It has never come to light, and has been replaced by a copy.

Not bad for a copy.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 06:03 PM
Category: Painting