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Jodocus Vydts, who married Isabella, Jerome's daughter, founded, in St. Bavon, a chapel, in which the mortal remains of the founder's family were buried. The chapel was built and adorned with sculptures and painted windows, on which were emblazoned the arms of the united families. An altar-piece alone was wanting, and Jodocus commissioned Hubert to paint it.
There were at that time, indeed, many painters at Ghent, though none of such note as Hubert. Like Bruges, that city had its guild, in which men who worked in miniature (verlichters) were thought unworthy of companionship, and some of whom were artists far above mediocrity in the eyes of their cotemporaries.
Wilhelm Van Axpoele, and John Maertens, licensed painters, (vrie schilders,) were employed, in 1419, to paint, “ in good oil-colours, unmixed with any corrosive substance," several important pieces for the town-hall,
-John Van Coudenberg and Marc Van Gestele, to adorn, in 1430, the church of Roselede, with four great Prophets, “a vif,” with “the Death of our Lady,” “our Saviour in the sun's rays,” “the Last Judgment,” and “ the Baptism of Christ ;”. all which aforesaid pictures (portraytenen) the said John and Marc were bound to finish for eleven livres. Marc again, in 1445, painted for the church of St. Martin at Courtrai. Nabor Martin
1 Voisin, ut sup., p. 187. De Bast. Ueber. Hub. & Joh. V. Eyck. 8vo. Ghent, 1825. Translated from Dr. Waagen. Note.
2 Vydts bore, Or, the fesses chequered azure. Burluut bore, Azure, Three Stags in course Or.
3 Diericx Mem. 8. la ville de Gand. 8vo. Ghendt. 1814-15. vol. ii. p. 73.
4 Ibid. vol. ii. p. 73. 5 Diericx. ut sup. vol. ii. pp. 111—115.
executed a Last Judgment, in 1444, for a gentleman named Sneevout, and, later, a large picture for the church of Lede. Cleerbout Wan Westevelde produced a great altar-piece for the church of Wachtebeke, and Saladin Van Scoenere, in 1434, engaged himself to paint in oil the altar-piece of the chapel of the minor brotherhood in Ghent, and repaint thereon “Count Louis, the citizens with their arms and followers.”" These are but faint traces, but we possess none other. Some curious customs, in connexion with these early painters, will find a place in the life of Van der Weyden. Hubert being entrusted with the execution of this great altar-piece, was, as a preliminary formality and honour, appointed to be member of the guild of our Lady, on the proposal of the choir of St. John of Ghent.” The subject which he chose, as fittest to adorn his chapel, was a series of the striking scenes from revelation, painted on the panels of a folding altar-piece. On one of them, which represents the Apparition of the Angel to the Virgin, is an open window, which discloses a perspective view in Ghent. With the happy carelessness of painters, it seemed no greater incongruity to make the holy apparition figure in a Flemish chamber, than to cap the semblance of Eternity with the papal tiara, or give Godfrey of Bouillon the armour of the fifteenth century.
* Diericx. ut sup. vol. ii. p. 255.
* Sente Bamesse, anno. XIIIIe en XXII was Hubrecht W. Eycke, gulde broeder van het Onser Vrouwe Gulden, up de rade van den chore van Sint Jans te Ghend. Register of the brotherhood O. V. Ghent, communicated by M. Goetghebuer.—See Carton, Annales de Bruges, infra, p. 28. St. John is the old name of the church of St. Bavon.
The view appears to have been one from nature, for its site and features still in part exist. On the right is the steeple of the Weaver's church, and behind it a gate, since destroyed, bearing the name of “Walpoorte.” On the left is the “ St. Martin's Straet,” and the “Steen van Papeghem.” In a spirit of adventure somewhat difficult to share, the Gantois now pretend that the view was from Van Eyck's own window, No. 26, Koey Straat, where, accordingly, medallion portraits of the painters have been placed. Hubert left the Mystic Lamb unfinished. He had only completed its upper portion when he died, in 1426." He was buried, on the 18th of September, in a vault below the crypt of the chapel of Burluuts and Wydts.” The following translation of his epitaph exhibits the pious spirit of the painter and his times. “Take warning from me, ye who walk over me; I was as you are, but am now buried dead beneath you. Thus it appears that neither art nor medicine availed me ; art, honour, wisdom, power, affluence are spared not when death arrives. I was called Hubert van Eyck. I am now food for worms. Formerly known and highly honoured in painting, this all was shortly after turned to nothing. It was in the year of the Lord, one thousand four hundred and twenty six, on the 18th day of September, that I rendered up my soul to God, in suffering. Pray God forme, ye who love art, that I may attain to his sight. Flee sin, turn to the best (objects), for you must follow me at last.” The arm with which he wielded so remarkably the pencil and the brush, was severed from Hubert's body, and suspended in a casket above the portal of St. Bavon, where it still remained in the sixteenth century.”
* Van Mander, pp. 200, 203. Vaernewyk, p. 119. Lucas de Heere, ap v. Mo. p. 202. The records of the tax paid by strangers to the city of Ghent contain an entry for this year, of VI sous paid by Hubert's heirs. The entry runs thus—“1426, Van den hoire van Lubrecht van Eyke VI s. g.” This is a confirmation of the date of the painter's death, and a proof that his family was not native of Ghent. Carton, ut sup.
* Van Mander, p. 203. Waernewyk, p. 119. Sanderus, (A.) De Brug. Erud. Clar. Lib. i. p. 39. “Decessit Gandavi, et sepultus in latere sinistra anterioris partis Ecc. S. Joh. Bapt.”
* Spieghelt u an my, die op my treden,
W. Mander, ut sup., p. 202. Vaernewyck, p. 119, c. xlvii. * Waerhewyck. Hist. v. Belgis, p. 119.
JOHN VAN EYCK.
We have every reason to believe that John Van Eyck was born between the years 1382 and 1386, at Maaseyck, where his family first resided. His early education was given by Hubert, who employed the young man in his labours, and taught him painting, drawing, and chemistry, —all of which were common to the oldest schools of art in Flanders, Germany, and Italy. Facio informs us that John studied geometry, and had many literary attainments. “He gained,” says this author, “ proficiency in manipulating colours from the examples of Pliny."3 His first patron and friend was John, bishop of Liège, a prelate whose reign was short and disturbed.
Van Eyck was hardly out of infancy when John's predecessor, Arnold de Horne, expired. Wenceslaus, the sup
1 Vaernewyk, ut sup., p. 119. V. Mander, ut sup., p. 199. Vaernewyk, and after him Van Mander, describe two figures in the altar-piece of the Pascal Lamb at Ghent, which they assert are portraits of the brothers Hubert and John Van Eyck, They have always been considered so, for Lampsonius has engraved them. The apparent difference of age in both is twenty years. “John," says V. Mander, “ was younger than his brother, who lived to be an older man than him.” Hubert died in 1426, aged sixty. John died in 1440-41, and must therefore have been born after 1382. Were he born in 1382, he would have reached his fifty-ninth year at his death, and would thus have been younger at his death than Hubert.
2 Facius (Bart.) De Viris Illust. 4to. Flor. 1715, p. 46.