Unraveling the Mystery of Jan van Eyck’s Cloths of Honor: The Ghent Altarpiece

  • Donna M. Cottrell
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The sumptuous textiles depicted by the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, active 1422–1441, include over 50 patterns, dozens of colors, and three types of fabric. Studies by this author, as well as others, have demonstrated that not only did the master distinguish between Flemish wools, Italian velvets, and lampas weave silks, but each was also characterized by the way in which it was employed. Lampas silks were used exclusively as cloths of honor, whereas wools and velvets were fashioned into garments and decorative items.1 Further, specific adornments for the wools, and special categories of velvets informed Jan van Eyck’s viewers of the portrayed figure’s particular status in the hierarchy of the secular or heavenly court.2

Keywords

Corn Europe shippIng Hunt Trench 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Donna M. Cottrell, “Birds, Beasts, and Blossoms: Form and Meaning in Jan van Eyck’s Cloths of Honor” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Case Western Reserve University), 1998, 82–96, and “Jan van Eyck’s Closet Iconography,” paper presented in “Medieval Textiles: Object, Text and Image,” The 33rd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 1998. Lisa Monnas, “Silk Textiles in the Paintings of Jan van Eyck,” in Investigating Jan van Eyck, ed. Susan Foister, Sue Jones, and Delphine Cool (Turnhout: Brepols, 2000), 147–62.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cottrell, “Closet Iconography”, Robert Baldwin, “Textile Aesthetics in Early Netherlandish Painting,” in Textiles of the Low Countries in European Economic History, ed Erik Aerts and John H. Munro (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990), 32–40.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Otto Pacht, Van Eyck and the Founders of Early Netherlandish Painting, trans. David Britt (London: Harvey Miller Publisher, 1994), 127;Google Scholar
  4. Carol Purtle, The Marian Paintings of Jan van Eyck (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1982), 16–21.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Penelope Eames, “Furniture in England, France, and the Netherlands from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century,” in Furniture History 13 (1977): xvii, 1–276, esp. 74; Monnas, 152; Jeffrey Chipps Smith, “The artistic patronage of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1419–1467)” (PhD Dissertation, Columbia University, 1979), 189.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rebecca Martin, Textiles in Daily Life in the Middle Ages (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 33.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    John Beckwith, The Art of Constantinople: An Introduction to Byzantine Art 330–1453 (New York: Phaidon, 1961), 93–94, 100–104;Google Scholar
  8. Christine V. Bornstein and Priscilla P. Soucek, The Meeting of Two Worlds: the Crusades and the Mediterranean Context (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1981), 9, 17,Google Scholar
  9. J. P. P. Higgins, Cloth of Gold. A History of Metallised Textiles (London: Lurex Co., Ltd., 1993), 12.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Janet Ellen Snyder, “Clothing as Communication: A study of clothing and textiles in Northern French Early Gothic Sculpture (Portals)” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1996), 503–14;Google Scholar
  11. John KentTilton, Textiles of the Italian Renaissance, their history and development (New York: Scalamandré Silks, Inc., 1950), 1–18.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    Baldwin, 32; Higgms, 24, 33–4, 37; Florence Edler de Roover, “The Silk Trade of Lucca,” Bulletin of the Needle and Bobbin Club 38 (1954): 28–48; H.Wescher, “Fabrics and Colours in the Ceremonial of the Court of Burgundy,” 1850–56, and “Fashion and Elegance at the Court of Burgundy,” 1841–48, Ciba Review 51 (1946);Google Scholar
  13. Michèle Beaulieu and Jeanne Baylé, Le Costume en Bourgogne de Philippe le Hardi à la mort de Charles le Téméraire (1364–1411) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1956), 27–30.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Leon Mirot, “Études lucquoise: Galvano Trenta et les joyaux de la couronne,” Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartres 101 (1940): 116–56; Florence M. Edler, “The Silk Trade of Lucca during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries,” Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1930,96–9,133–45;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Raymond de Roover, Money, Banking and Credit in Medieval Bruges: Italian Merchant-Bankers, Lombards, and Money-changers (Cambridge: Medieval Academy of America, 1948), 21–2, 39;Google Scholar
  16. V. Vermeersch, Bruges and Europe (Antwerp: Mercator, 1992), 188–93Google Scholar
  17. 12.
    Y. Hirn, The Sacred Shrine: A Study of the Poetry and Art of the Catholic Church (1912; reprint Boston: Macmillan & Co., 1957), 145–74;Google Scholar
  18. Christa Mayer-Thurman, Raiment for the Lord’s Service, A Thousand Years of Western Vestments (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1975), 43–4.Google Scholar
  19. 13.
    Dieter Jansen, “Simihtudo: Untersuchungen zu den Bildnissen Jan van Eycks” (Ph.D Dissertation, Cologne University, 1988), 44–6;Google Scholar
  20. Millard Meiss, “Light as Form and Symbol in Some Fifteenth-Century Paintings,” in The Painter’s Choice: Problems in the Interpretation of Renaissance Art (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), 3–18;Google Scholar
  21. Erwin Panofsky, “De Administration” in Abbot Suger on the Abbey Church of St. Denis and Its Art Treasures, 2nd ed (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1979), 63–5.Google Scholar
  22. 14.
    George C. Druce, “The Mediaeval Bestiaries, and their Influence on Ecclesiastical Decorative Art,” British Archaeological Association Journal New Series 25, pt. 1 (1919): 41–82, and 26, pt. 2 (1920): 35–79; Florence McCulloch, Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960), preface 7ffGoogle Scholar
  23. 15.
    Ewa Kuryluk, “Metaphysics of cloth. Leonardo’s draperies at the Louvre,” Arts Magazine 64 (1990): 80–2, and Veronica and her cloth: history, symbolism, and structure of a “true” image (Cambridge B. Blackwell, 1991), 71, 180–6; Hirn, 33–4, 163, 321, 454–5.Google Scholar
  24. 17.
    Johann Konrad Eberlein, “The Curtain in Raphael’s Sistine Madonna,” Art Bulletin 65 (1983). 61–77;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. H. P. L’Orange, Studies on the Iconography of Cosmic Kingship in the Ancient World (New York: Caratzas Brothers, 1982), 135–6;Google Scholar
  26. E. Baldwin Smith, Architectural Symbolism of Imperial Rome and the Middle Ages (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1956), 4, 107–18, 151–5, 166–8, 197–8.Google Scholar
  27. 19.
    Per Beskow, Rex Gloriae. The Kingship of Christ in the Early Church (Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksells, 1962), 12–14;Google Scholar
  28. E. H. Kantorowicz, “Laudes regiae,” University of California Publications in History, Berkeley 33 (1946): 56–9, 225–7, and The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1957), 65, 93.Google Scholar
  29. 20.
    Moshe Barasch, Imago Hominis: Studies in the language of Art (New York: New York University Press, 1991), 25–6.Google Scholar
  30. 21.
    Brigitte Klesse, “Darstellung von Seidenstoffen in der Altkölner Malerei,” in Mouseion: Studien aus Kunst und Geschichte fur Otto H. Foerster, ed. Heinz Ladendorf (Cologne: M. duMont Schauberg, 1960), 218;Google Scholar
  31. Barbara Markowsky, Europaische Seidengewebe des 13 – 18. Jahrhunderts (Cologne: Kunstgewerbe-Museum, 1976), 99–113;Google Scholar
  32. Donald and Monique King, “Silk Weaves of Lucca in 1376,” in Opera Textilia variorum Temporum:The Museum of National Antiquities Stockholm Studies 8 (1988): 67–76.Google Scholar
  33. 22.
    Elisabeth Dhanens, Van Eyck: The Ghent Altarpiece (New York: Viking Press, 1973), 130–7;Google Scholar
  34. P. Coremans, Les Primitifs Flamands: HI. Contributions à L’étude des L’agneau mystique au laboratoire: examen et traitement (Antwerp: De Sikkel, 1953), 100–1;Google Scholar
  35. J. R. J. van Asperen de Boer, “A scientific re-examination of the Ghent Altarpiece,” Oud Holland 113 (1979) 143–5.Google Scholar
  36. 25.
    Monnas, “Silk Textiles,” 150, Brigitte Tietzel “Sem und Schein in Jan van Eyck’s gemalten Stoffen,” in Festschrift fur Brigitte Klesse, ed. Ingrid Guntermann and Brigitte Tietzel (Berlin: P. Hanstein Verlag, 1994), 217–31;Google Scholar
  37. Lucy Trench, “Italian silks in fifteenth century Netherlandish pamtmg,” in New Perspectives. Studies in art history in honour of Anne Crookshank, ed. Jane Felon (Dublin: Irish Academic, 1987), 59–73;Google Scholar
  38. Anne E. Ward Well, “Italian Gothic silks in the museum collection,” Bulletin, LA County Museum of Art 24 (1978): 6–23.Google Scholar
  39. 30.
    Chanoine van den Gheyn, L’interprétation du Retable de Saint-Bavon a Gand: l’Agneau Mystique des frères Van Eyck (Ghent, n.p , 1920), 113; A. M. Manen-Dugardm, “Les draps d’honneur du Retable de l’Agneau Mystique,” Bulletin de la Société Royale d’archéologie de Bruxelles, 1947–48, 18–21,Google Scholar
  40. Ferdinand de Mély, “Le retable de l’agneau des van Eyck et les pierres gravées talis-mamques,” Revue archéologique 14 (1921): 33–48;Google Scholar
  41. Hippolyte Fierens-Gevaert, La Renaissance Septentrionale et Les Premiers Maîtres des Flandres (Brussels, G. van Oest & Cie, 1905), 176–220; Tietzel, 229; Monnas, “Silk Textiles,” 152–3. 31. Coremans, 35–6,45–6,48–56,64,100–1 ;Van Asperen de Boer, 163–5;Google Scholar
  42. Elisabeth Dhanens, “Bijdrage tot de Studie van de repentirs en oude over-schilderingen op het Lam-Godsretabel van Hubert en Jan van Eyck,” Bulletin de l’Institut royal du patrimoine artistique 15 (1975): 110–8.Google Scholar
  43. 34.
    Friedrich Fischbach, Die Geschichte der Textilkunst (Frankfurt-am Main, n.p., 1883), pl. 75.Google Scholar
  44. 35.
    Ludwig Kammerer, Hubert und Jan van Eyck (Bielefeld: Verlag von Delhagen & Klafing, 1898), 11–13;Google Scholar
  45. J. Duverger, “Kopieën van het ‘Lam Gods’ Retabel van Hubrecht en Jan van Eyck,” Bulletin Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Künsten, Brussels 3 (1954): 51–68; Manen-Dugardm, 19; Monnas, “Silk Textiles,” 152.Google Scholar
  46. 39.
    Charlene S. Engel, “Sator ara te: the Ghent Altarpiece cryptogram,” Revue Belge d’Archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art 62 (1993): 47–65;Google Scholar
  47. Dieter Jansen, “Jan van Eyck’s Selbstbildnis—der Mann mit dem rotten Turban und der sogenannte Tymotheos der Londoner National Gallery,” Pantheon 47 (1989): 36–48; Mély, 33–48;Google Scholar
  48. Paul Philippot, “Texte et image dans la peinture des Pays-Bas au XV et XVI siècles,” Bulletin Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique 34–7 (1985–88): 75–86;Google Scholar
  49. D. de Vos, “Further notes on Als Ich Can,” Oud Holland 97 (1983) 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 40.
    John’s panel measures 72 x 162.2 cm without the frame. Coremans, 45–8, 50–6, 63–4, 66–7;Van Asperen de Boer, 169; Roger H. Marijnissen, “Twee specificke paneelproblemen: de Johannes de Doper van het Lam Gods en Ruben’s Kruisoprichting,” Bulletin de l’Institut royal du patrimoine artistique 19 (1982–83) 120–32.Google Scholar
  51. 44.
    Goodgal, 206–25; Purtle, xv–xviii; Philippot, 75–7; John Ward, “Disguised symbolism as enactive symbolism in Jan van Eyck’s paintings,” Artibus et Historiae 15 (1994): 9–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 45.
    L. Charbonneau-Lassay, Le Bestiaire du Christ, trans, and abridged D. M Dooling (1940; reprint New York: Parabola Books, 1991), 258–63, 369–70;Google Scholar
  53. Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi. The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 310–1.Google Scholar
  54. 46.
    Sam Segal, “Die Pflanzen im Genter Altar,” in De arte et libris: Festschrift Erasmus 1934–1984 (Amsterdam: n.p , 1984), 403–20,Google Scholar
  55. Mirella Levi D’Ancona, The Garden of the Renaissance Botanical Symbolism in Italian Painting (Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 1977), 159–65;Google Scholar
  56. Reindert L. Falkenburg, The Fruit of Devotion Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Painting of the Virgin and Child, 1450–1550, trans. Sammy Herman (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 1994), 10Google Scholar
  57. 49.
    Mirella Levi D’Ancona, The Iconography of the Immaculate Conception in the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance (New York: The College Art Association, 1957), 67,Google Scholar
  58. Margaret Freeman, The Unicorn Tapestries (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976), 23–5, 29;Google Scholar
  59. Odell Shepard, The Lore of the Unicorn (New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1967), 58, 110, 152.Google Scholar
  60. 50.
    Rüdiger Robert Beer, Unicorns—Myth and Reality, trans. Charles M. Stern (New York: Van Nostrand Remhold Co., 1977), 24, 41, 72–9, 95–101, Freeman, 21–5;Google Scholar
  61. Malcolm South, Mythological and Fabulous Creatures (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987), 14–18; Shepard, 282.Google Scholar
  62. 52.
    Segal, 15, 17; Freeman, 131, 143; Charbonneau-Lassay, 370; Eleanor C. Marquand, “Plant Symbolism in the Unicorn Tapestries,” Parnassus 10 (1938). 3–8, 33, 40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 54.
    Dhanens, Ghent Altarpiece, 19, 56, 83–7, 97; Goodgal, 184–7, 306–19; Purtle, 5–6, 20–1, Gary M. Radke, “A Note on the Iconographical Significance of St. John the Baptist in the Ghent Altarpiece,” Marsyas 18 (1975–76). 1–6.Google Scholar
  64. 56.
    Dhanens, Ghent Altarpiece, 83–7; Lotte Brand Philip, The Ghent Altarpiece and the Art of fan van Eyck (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1971), 61–2, 79, 99; Falkenburg, 7–9.Google Scholar
  65. 57.
    Freeman, 132; D’Ancona, Garden, 323; Lawrence Naftulin, “A Note on the Iconography of the van der Paele Madonna,” Oud Holland 86 (1971): 3–8; andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. John Williamson, The Oak King, The Holly King, and The Unicorn (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 230Google Scholar
  67. 60.
    Manen-Dugardin, 19–20; Antonmo Santangelo, The Development of Italian Textile Design from the Twelfth to the Eighteenth Century, trans. P. Craig (Milan: Zwemmer, 1959), CP 13 and 31.Google Scholar
  68. 61.
    Cottrell, “Birds, Beasts,” 99–102;Tietzel, 229; Lisa Monnas, “Silk textiles in the paintings of Bernardo Daddi, Andrea di Cione, and their followers,” Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte 53 (1990): 39–58, 44;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Anne Wardwell, “The Stylistic Development of Fourteen and Fifteenth Century Italian Silk Design,” Aachener Kumtblatter 47 (1976–77): 177–226; Klesse, 217–25Google Scholar
  70. 63.
    Otto von Falke, Kunstgeschichte der Seidenweberei (Berlin: Wasmuth, 1913), fig. 411.Google Scholar
  71. 65.
    Goodgal, 133, 140; Trench, 72; James Marrow, “Symbol and Meaning in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance,” Simiolus 16 (1986): 150–69; Ward, 12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Désirée G. Koslin and Janet E. Snyder 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna M. Cottrell

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations