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)


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


Fifteenth Century Silk Textile Pattern Block Supreme Authority Grape Cluster 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Désirée G. Koslin and Janet E. Snyder 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna M. Cottrell

There are no affiliations available

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