Prayers and Portraits
“Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych” is now on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The show highlights 40 diptychs, paintings on two hinged panels that can be opened and closed like a book, by artists such as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Hans Memling, and Hugo van der Goes, among others.
A review of the show appeared in today’s The New York Times:
“Probably nothing in Western art comes closer to formal perfection than these pictures, produced by the likes of Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes across an area that now encompasses the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of France. These painters were pictorial magicians, creating visual worlds, cosmically abstract and microscopically realistic, of peerless breadth.
You see all of this in one glance at the 40 double-panel paintings, or diptychs, here. Then you learn gradually as you move through the show how diptych paintings have been unmade and remade, broken up and reconfigured, over the centuries, with the result that few survive in their intended form.
“Prayers and Portraits” is an attempt to restore that form, at least to a few of them. It brings art historians and art conservators together in a project that is part salvage mission and part detective story, and based on the premise that there’s a lot we don’t know.”
“Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych” will be at the National Gallery of Art through February 4th, 2007. The catalog for the exhibition (Yale University Press 2006) was written by John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk.