Madonna in the Church - Jan van Eyck. 31 x 14 cm
Virgin Mary with a baby in her arms, tilting her head slightly, is surrounded by the strict geometric arches of the Gothic cathedral. Before us is one of the most famous and mysterious works of Jan van Eyck "Madonna in the Church."
Indeed, the picture gave rise to many mysteries. It is believed that it was created somewhere between 1438-1440. Presumably, he ordered a painting from the author Philip III Good. Until the middle of the 19th century, it is not known how and where the work was stored. Some critics even suspect that Van Eyck is not the author of the work, attributing it to his brother and teacher, Hubert van Eyck. There are also large discrepancies with accurate dating: either it is attributed to Van Eyck's early work, then to the period of the creation of the “Portrait of the Arnolfini Couple”.
The work is written on a small blackboard. It is almost a miniature. This size is due to the typical parameters of the prayer diptych, which were common in the XV century. It is assumed that the left wing of the diptych has reached us - the clasps for screwing into the loops of the second lost half are preserved on the frame. And the image itself looks illogical, if we assume that we have a finished work in front of us - Maria is shifted from the center, and her eyes seem to be directed at someone.
Van Eyck's innovation is in the background image. What a detailed drawing of the interior of the Gothic temple! There were even suggestions that this is some kind of real building. Although, most likely, this is a figment of the artist’s imagination, an idealized image. Moreover, there were no rounded typhoria and glazed windows (not stained-glass windows) in the temples in those days. The shadows cast by architectural elements were written so realistically that it is assumed that the artist painted all this from nature. A revolutionary act for that time, because before the Impressionists, who will introduce this into everyday life for as long as 400 years !!!
Light spots on the floor are also curious, because the light source is by no means windows - they are located on the opposite side. So there is some other source of light, and van Eyck hints at the presence of God in the walls of the cathedral.
In 1851, a painting was discovered in a village near Nantes. Then a rare work was in the hands of collector Barthold Zurmondt, and in 1874 his entire collection of 219 paintings, including “Madonna in the Church”, was bought by the Berlin Gallery. The work is still there.