October 01, 2012

Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece

Expert Ron Spronk Talks about the Ghent Altarpiece

At the Getty Center
Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.



Melissa Abraham
Getty Communications
(310) 440-6861  

The Ghent Altarpiece (Open), completed 1432. Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Saint Bavo Cathedral 
© Lukas -Art in Flanders vzw 

LOS ANGELES—This year it became possible to zoom into the intricate, breathtaking details of one of the most important works of art in the world, thanks to a newly completed website focused on the Ghent Altarpiece and funded by the Getty FoundationRon Spronk, the professor of art history at Queen’s University in Canada who led the incredible project will describe the documentation campaign and demonstrate the use of the website as an educational and research tool at the Getty Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 4, 2012, in the Museum Lecture Hall.

A stunning and highly complex painting composed of separate oak panels, The Mystic Lamb of 1432 by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, known as the Ghent Altarpiece, underwent much-needed emergency conservation within the Villa Chapel in St. Bavo Cathedral in Ghent. As part of this work, the altarpiece was removed from its glass enclosure and temporarily dismantled—a rare event which also made it possible to undertake a comprehensive examination and documentation, supported by the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles.

The 20 individual panels that make up the Mystic Lamb were documented with state-of-the-art equipment using extremely high resolution.

The result is a dedicated website ( that allows viewers unparalleled access to Van Eyck’s world in breathtaking detail.

In addition, X-ray and infrared images on the website enable viewers to virtually peek under the surface and follow Van Eyck’s hand from earlier underdrawing to the final painted version we see today.

In his lecture, Ron Spronk, who directed documentation of the altarpiece and the creation of the website, introduces the
Ghent Altarpiece and its state of conservation.

Admission is Free. Reservations are recommended. Call (310) 440-7300 or visit

About Ron Spronk

Ron Spronk is a professor of art history at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and Hieronymous Bosch Chair at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Ron Spronk is a specialist in the technical examination of paintings. From 1994 to 2007 he worked in different capacities at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Massachusetts, most recently as Research Curator. He has published widely on the technical examination of paintings and he co-curated award-winning exhibitions on Mondrian’s Transatlantic Paintings and on Early Netherlandish diptychs. In 2010, he coordinated the technical documentation of the Ghent Altarpiece and he is currently a member of the team that is studying the oeuvre of Hieronymus Bosch. He also teaches part-time at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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