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The Ghent Altarpiece: the return of its divine colours

St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent will briefly close its doors from 8 until 25 March 2021. During this time, the restored panels of the Ghent Altarpiece will be reinstalled with extreme precision. The masterpiece will finally be reassembled in the place for which the van Eyck brothers originally created it, marking the end of the altarpiece’s ‘peregrinations’. On the occasion of the official reopening on 25 March 2021, visitors can trace the masterpiece’s journey in ‘The Ghent Altarpiece. The return of its divine colours’.

The journey

The Ghent Altarpiece is one of the most important religious works of art in the world. At one time, this was the world’s most coveted painting. Since its completion in 1432, the work has had a tumultuous history: it was almost destroyed in a fire, stolen several times, dismembered and moved repeatedly. Read the whole story here: https://visit.gent.be/en/adventures-ghent-altarpiece

The altarpiece was painted by two brothers. Now, more than 400 years later, two other brothers – Stijn and Jonas – take viewers on a journey to all these special places in a social media report.

The actual colours

During the journey, one of the brothers will always wear the same outfit, demonstrating the impact of travel and time on colours. But the colours of the Ghent Altarpiece endured even greater trials. Overpaint and (yellowed) varnish had the greatest impact on the panels.

The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage began the restoration of this masterpiece in 2021. The old hardened layers of varnish and overpaint were removed in a meticulous and painstaking process. This is the first time since the 16th century that we will see the altarpiece in the colours that the van Eycks used.

Follow our journey via https://www.instagram.com/theflemishmasters/?hl=nl

Would you like to visit the Ghent Altarpiece and the new visitor centre? Buy tickets at https://www.sintbaafskathedraal.be/en/buy-tickets/

View the film about the journey of the Ghent Altarpiece
Find out more about the journey of one of the most important religious works of art in the world.

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