The surviving work of Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (c. 1395–1441) consists of a series of painstakingly detailed oil paintings of astonishing verisimilitude. Most explanations of the meanings behind these paintings have been grounded in a disguised religious symbolism that critics have insisted is foremost. But in Jan van Eyck, Craig Harbison sets aside these explanations and turns instead to the neglected human dimension he finds clearly present in these works. Harbison investigates the personal histories of the true models and participants who sat for such masterpieces as the Virgin and Child and the Arnolfini Double Portrait.
This revised and expanded edition includes many illustrations and reveals how van Eyck presented his contemporaries with a more subtle and complex view of the value of appearances as a route to understanding the meaning of life.