Eight panels of Ghent Altarpiece fully restored


Eight of the 12 exterior panels of the Van Eyck masterpiece ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ are finally back home in Sint-Baaf’s Cathedral

Free to view

After a restoration of four years, the outer panels of the famous Van Eyck altarpiece “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” are back in Ghent’s Sint-Baaf’s Cathedral. The beautifully restored panels will open to visitors at noon on Wednesday; they can be viewed free of charge until 16 October.

The 15th-century altarpiece – one of the world’s first oil paintings – is a triptych that opens and closes like a cabinet. The eight side panels that make up the exterior of the doors are the ones that are newly restored.

The interior panels – the inside of the triptych – must still undergo restoration. The bottom panel – on which the lamb of the title can be seen – will be removed this week for restoration. Digital prints replace the originals while they’re being restored.

Panels are removed from the work’s glass showcase in Sint-Baaf’s and taken to the city’s Fine Arts Museum for restoration. Visitors can see restorers from Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage at work on the panels in the museum.

The first of three phases in the restoration process took nearly two years longer than originally planned and cost almost twice as much as initially estimated. Restoration is expected to continue until 2020.

An exhibition on the restoration process opens on 12 October at the city’s Caermersklooster Culture Centre. Visitors can see the process whereby the Van Eyck’s original masterpiece, some of which has been hidden beneath overpaint for centuries, is revealed.

Photo: A detail of the exterior panels of “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”. Click on photo to see full image
(c) Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent/www.lukasweb.be – Art in Flanders vzw, photo by Dominique Provost