Painter. The older brother of artist Jan Van Eyck, he was a founder of the Flemish school of 15th Century painting and one of the first to work in oils. He and Jan created one of the great masterpieces of northern Renaissance art, "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb", better known as "The Ghent Altarpiece" (1432). Its complex design and wealth of religious symbolism inspired one admiring critic to call it "A moral encyclopedia of the Middle Ages". Very little is known of Van Eyck, and his birthdate is only approximate. He was born in what is now Maaseik, Belgium and spent much of his life in Flanders. The earliest document mentioning a "Master Hubert, Painter" dates from 1413, a time when he may have been in the service of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. By the early 1420s he was living in Ghent and patronized by the city's wealthiest citizens, one of whom, Joost Vijd, commissioned him to paint an elaborate altarpiece for his private chapel in St. Bavo's Cathedral. He died while the work was in progress and Jan Van Eyck was asked to complete it, which he did six years later. Hubert was highly esteemed in his time. An inscription on the altarpiece refers to him as "The greatest painter who ever lived" and to Jan as "second only to him in skill". But his accomplishments are impossible to assess because "The Ghent Altarpiece" is the only surviving painting on which he was known to have worked, and scholars examining the stylistic evidence have been unable to determine where Hubert's efforts broke off and Jan's began. In the end, Jan Van Eyck went on to lasting fame as one of the great Flemish masters, while Hubert went into eclipse. "The Ghent Altarpiece" offers only a fascinating clue to his lost legacy.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards