Wednesday, 22 January 2020

agnus dei

Reminiscent of another recent case of restoring the artist's original vision after an intervening conservator had “fixed” it for them, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral of Ghent has just unveiled the newly returned to its original state altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, Het Lam Gods) created by Jan and Hubert van Eyck in the 1420s. This masterpiece, one of the most stolen in art history and considered the first major work executed with oil paint is a polyptych consisting of twelve panels and foldable wings—and in the centre lower register portrays a lamb sent to sent to slaughter—ecce agnus dei qui tollit peccata mundi, “Behold the Lamb of God who bears away the sins of the world.”
The revealed eyes and nose, however, after much research and consternation, are distinctly not ovine but rather uncannily human. The old look was a bit toned down but the van Eyck brothers’ vision wasn’t exactly terribly off-putting or haunted either. Perhaps public reaction is compounded by the reception of the rotoscope adaptation of Cats in theatres over the holidays that made people lose their minds.