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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: January 22, 2020 01:10AM

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/facelift-for-the-mystic-lamb

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/22/alarmingly-humanoid-shear-disbelief-over-restoration-of-ghent-altarpiece

A restoration of one of the world’s most famous paintings has been described as “a shock for everybody” after it revealed a depiction of a sheep with extremely human-like eyes.

The Ghent Altarpiece, completed by Hubert and Jan van Eyck in 1432, is a 15th-century masterpiece in St Bavo’s Cathedral in Belgium, widely considered to be the first major artwork to use oil paint.

For centuries, its central panel – titled Adoration of the Mystic Lamb – featured a demure sheep (the Lamb of God) being sacrificed on an altar as a representation of Jesus Christ.

The sheep was painted over by a different artist in 1550, but a multi-million-dollar restoration has now revealed the original, startling face of the titular ovine.

Described by the Smithsonian Magazine as “alarmingly humanoid”, the new Ghent lamb now sports larger, more vibrant eyes and a more detailed, flared pink nose.

Unlike other art restorations, such as the infamous botched Ecce Homo (also known as Monkey Christ), the Ghent lamb has in fact been professionally restored to how it originally looked.

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The head of restoration, Hélène Dubois, described the unveiled face as “cartoonish” and “a shock for everybody” in an interview with The Art Newspaper.

“Nothing like this had ever been observed on early Netherlandish painting,” Dubois said.

Curators from Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage used surgical scalpels and microscopes to remove old paint “centimetre by centimetre”, over three years, to reveal the original sheep.

“There are no words to express the result,” they said in a statement on the royal institute’s website. “Liberated from the thick layers of yellow varnish and the coarser overpaints, we can discover the Van Eycks’ sublime virtuosity in abundance.”

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Posted by: Morlock ( )
Date: January 23, 2020 06:50AM

It isn't really that human looking, unless you think human faces are covered in wool and have elongated snouts.

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Posted by: Visitors Welcome ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 01:53AM

Living in Antwerp, I have been looking forward to this for months. I am planning to make a lot of weekend trips to Ghent this February and March. Ghent has a lot of wonderful museums, but the special exhibitions reuniting half of all the world's remaining Van Eycks is a once-in-a-lifetime event!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 02:27AM

I believe the Ghent Altarpiece was one of the treasures that the US "Monuments Men" hunted down in the last months of World War Two. That chunk of history is fascinating. Robert Edsel wrote a book about those men and their unforgettable work.

On a personal note, I have a dear friend who was always something of an outsider: a gay, dyslexic kid in a rough working-class Catholic neighborhood of Boston. When he was about 10 or 12, he started hanging out in the Museum of Art, where a curator took pity on him and gave him unfettered access to the archives. Several years of rooting around in there gave him a superb informal education in classical art and led to a career later as a dealer and then an architect.

Anyway, once years ago I mentioned Edsel's book to him and he replied that the curator who had befriended him was in fact one of the Monuments Men. In his late 30s or early 40s he was sent by the US army to travel around the lines, sometimes under fire, and dig up artworks that the Nazis had stolen. After the war he returned to Boston and spent the rest of his life in relative obscurity, in which darkness he managed to touch the life of a man who in turn later became both a dear friend and a mentor to my children.

The heroic efforts of heroic people--or rather the character that made them heroes in the first place--resound through subsequent generations.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 08:50AM

https://www.wbur.org/artery/2014/02/12/monuments-men-lane-faison



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 11:18AM by anybody.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 01:41PM

Yes, both were great.

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Posted by: notmonotloggedin ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 11:26AM

I'm in a bit of disagreement with the way this is presented. It is obvious to anyone observing the original and the newer version that the first lamb was design to look more stern,depicting Christ, the Lamb of God in his somber role as the sacrificial offering for sin and Judge of the World. Any "awkwardness" in the original appearance of the lamb stems from this effort to make an otherwise innocuous looking creature to fit this bill.
The later version was clearly meant to portray Christ as more "meek and mild" fitting in with contemporary opinion. It is without a doubt the first version that fits the context of the work.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 11:52AM

Some random thoughts after looking at this:

I'm still confused how angels somehow grew another set of appendages coming out of their backs. Usually wings are a modification of forelimbs (arms in their case).

So, why not have animals with human parts? Other mythology includes animals with human bits. Why not sheep with intense eyes staring at you when you kill it? I don't get why this is a big deal. The pupils are oval so they don't look like human eyes to me.

The whole sheep symbolism in Christianity is problematic anyway. Who is supposed to be the Shepard and who is the Lamb? Sorry- I digress.

Jan van Eyck is one of my very favorite artists. I don't know about Hubert. Maybe he had a bad experience with a sheep.

I don't know if we humans can ever get past having to kill other animals to live. It's a horrible design to be a part of, IMO. I hope we can get past the idea of offering a sacrifice though. Killing something innocent to pay a price or appease is a really bad deal for the animal (or virgin!) being sacrificed. Killing a god to fulfill the god's plan is even weirder. Stupid humans.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 01:44PM

> So, why not have animals with human parts? Other
> mythology includes animals with human bits.

There are all sorts of chimeras, certainly, in mythology, literature, and art. I once even saw a half-man half-motorcycle.

Or maybe that was just a nightmare.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: January 24, 2020 06:41PM

I see the original depiction of the lamb as being an exercise in the artist breaking down the fourth wall between the viewer and "the lamb of God," Christ. IMO it is meant to suggest and forge a direct connection between the viewer and Christ.

My favorite example of this technique is Manet's "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère". In the mirrored reflection, the barmaid is directly in front of a gentleman (Manet,) while in the image, she is directly in front of the viewer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergère#/media/File:Edouard_Manet,_A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergère.jpg

Discussion:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Bar_at_the_Folies-Bergère

Edit: Sorry for the messed-up links. I can't get the pages to link correctly. Copy and paste into a new tab if you want to have a look.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2020 06:47PM by summer.

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