Dear Cleo 18 09 29

Dearest Cleo

It was good to see you this morning and I am looking forward to catching up again later at Loz’s birthday party. My study of pre-modern art has arrived at Jan Van Eyck these are my investigations.

Van Eyck following the completion of the Ghent Altarpiece begun by his brother Hubert was considered a prince amongst painters. Although credited by Vasari as the inventor of oil paint modern methods of examination have proved this not to be the case as drying oils had been in use for a considerable time before Van Eyck.

Van Eyck’s use of oil paints produced a naturalism of the highest order producing extremely lifelike works such as The Arnolfi Marriage, Portrait of a Man ( Self portrait), Portrait of a Man Leal Souvenir and Saint Barbara all of which reside in Room 63 at the National Gallery. The first 3 are highly finished works in oil, the paint layers are thin and built up with great subtlety and perhaps St Barbara reveals an early stage in the artist’s process of layered works.

Figure 1 The Arnolfi Marriage

Figure 2 Portrait of a Man ( Self portrait)

Figure 3 Portrait of a Man Leal Souvenir

Figure 4 Saint Barbara

Although the Italian Renaissance is much trumpeted, the Northern Renaissance reached this high point with Van Eyck in the early 15th century some fifty years before the Italian pinnacle.

The Chandelier in The Arnolfi Marriage provided considerable interest to Hockney in his book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters concerning the use of mirrors and lenses in the art of the past.

In 2010 the conservationists at the National Gallery restored the Van Eyck work Margaret the artist’s wife, the restoration is recorded in detail here and provided a fascinating insight into the artists materials and techniques.

See you in a few hours at the restaurant.

My love as always

Mickos xx

Museum Visit

The National Gallery to see the four works in Room 63


Vassari,G. (1912) Lives of the Most Eminent Painters  Sculptors & Architects. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd & the Medici Society Ltd.

Hockney, D. (2006) Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters. New York: Avery Publishing


Internet research

(all accessed September 2018)

Documentaries viewed

Jill Poyard fine Art. (2017) Brushstrokes (part 1) – The Early Masters. At: (accessed 28.9.18)

BBC. The Northern Renaissance 01 The Supreme Art. At: (accessed 29.9.18)