Just Judges panel down to Jan

Art historians generally attribute the initial work and concept for the Ghent Altarpiece to Hubert van Eyck and credit his younger brother Jan with painting the panels between 1430 and 1432.

just-judgesHowever, my research to identify the horsemen featured in the Just Judges panel confirms that this particular section refers to events after Hubert’s death in 1426 and therefore both the concept and the painting of the Just Judges can only be attributed to Jan and was likely the final panel completed before the altarpiece was unveiled in May 1432.

In 1934 two of the altarpiece panels were stolen, the Just Judges and St John the Baptist. The latter was soon returned but the Just Judges is still missing.

In 1939 the Belgian art restorer and copyist Jef Van der Veken began making a copy of the stolen panel, working from an earlier photograph and also a copy made in the 16th century by Michiel Coxcie. However his work was interrupted by the Second World War until 1945. It is this copy that now forms part of the original altarpiece that can be seen at St Bavo Cathedral in Ghent.

• Image source: Closer to Van Eyck