The Van Eyck brothers would become the great innovators of Flemish painting at the beginning of the 16th century. And although Jan Van Eyck with works such as the Arnolfini Marriage or the Virgin of Chancellor Rolin is the most famous, we have to talk about both brothers, since the production of Jan and Hubert van Eyck is confused in works prior to the year 1426, since Hubert died on that date.
Van Eyck Turin Book of Hours
An example of this are the miniatures that appear in the Book of Hours of Turin, so called because part of it is preserved in that Italian city, in theTurin Municipal Museum of Ancient Art. It is unknown which of the two carried out this work, and it is not even fully attested that they were the ones who created this illuminated book. However, the quality of the illustrations and their style suggest that one of them was the author.
Or perhaps the two were in close collaboration, something that, for example, is reflected in another of his most famous works: the Mystic Lamb Polyptych made for theSt. Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent. A work that Hubert is known to have started, but which he did not finish before he died, so he finished it Jan.
The fact is that the Book of Hours of Turin is a work that according to some historians would be made in the Dutch city of The Hague, or bycommissioned by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria in the year 1417, or at the request of John of Bavaria, Count of Holland, between the years 1422 and 1424.
Furthermore, as we said, it is not completely certified that the the Van Eycks were its authors, although the relationship between those scenes and their paintings is undeniable. In fact, it is thought that the training of these painters was linked to the world of miniature illustration, hence the extraordinary capacity for detail that is later manifested in panels such as the Annunciation where even the most insignificant ornaments can be seen with a magnifying glass. of the dress worn by the Virgin Mary.
The truth is that not much is known about those formative years as miniaturists. Given the echoes of Late Gothic art in France, some researchers think that Jan van Eyck, above all, may have gone to Paris to learn this artistic technique. But you can't be sure.
What is clear is that they soon left their place of birth, in the small town of Masseik, close to the current Dutch city of Maastricht , to become artists who were to represent a very important step in the pictorial evolution of northern Europe. A process parallel to the one that was taking place with the artists of the first Renaissance in Italy.