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Jan van Eyck the most famous and innovative Flemish painter of the 15th century is thought to have come from the village of Maaseyck in Limbourg No record of his birthdate survives but it is believed to have been about 1390 his career however is well documented He was employed 1422-24 at the court of John of Bavaria count of Holland at The Hague and in 1425 he was made court painter and valet de chambre to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy He became a close member of the dukes court and undertook several secret missions for him including a trip 1428-29 to Spain and Portugal in connection with negotiations that resulted in the marriage 1430 of Philip of Burgundy and Isabella of Portugal Documents show that in 1432-33 van Eyck bought a house in Bruges He signed and dated a number of paintings between 1432 and 1439 all of which are painted in oil and varnished According to documents he was buried on July 9 1441 Van Eyck has been credited traditionally with the invention of painting in oils and although this is incorrect there is no doubt that he perfected the technique He used the oil medium to represent a variety of subjects with striking realism in microscopic detail for example he infused painted jewels and precious metals with a glowing inner light by means of subtle glazes over the highlights Like Robert Campin van Eyck carefully selected and arranged his subject matter so that it would contribute deeper symbolic meaning to his painting a style that Erwin Panofsky has called disguised symbolism The meticulous attention to detail in his paintings of architectural interiors and landscapes is also evident in his portraits painted with unrelenting dispassionate accuracy Van Eycks most famous and most controversial work is one of his first the Ghent altarpiece 1432 a polyptych consisting of twenty panels in the Church of St Bavo Ghent On the frame is an
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