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The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin

Here we see another commissioned religious painting by a rich guy who wanted to boast his piety and guarantee himself a spot in heaven. The dude is a chancellor to the Duke of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin and he is worshiping the baby Jesus on his mother's lap inside an imaginary italian-style basilica. Oh, also, the Virgin Mary is being crowned. Nicolas Rolin is dressed like a prince, probably in a desperate attempt to be seen as a high ranking court official - he is wearing furs and gold. The small flower garden symbolizes Mary's virtues. The two male figures in the distance staring into the outside may have represented Jan van Eyck himself and his assistant. The reliefs above Rolin's head show the vices - expulsion of adam and eve from paradise (pride), killing of Abel by Cain (envy), drunkeness of Noah (gluttony), lion head may stand for anger,  and the rabbits - lust. Jan Van Eyck portrayed a very small space which gave the viewer a sense of intimacy without the feeling of constriction (sardines in a can).

This painting was examined using infrared reclectograms which revealed the underdrawings. So, Rolin originally had a huge sack of gold with him, cause he was so rich. But, he probably thought it inappropriate to depict this in a religious scene so it was removed.

This is a painting by a dutch guy named Jan Van Eyck. He was one of the most famous painters of the Northern Renaissance. He is a pioneer of using oil for paint, which allowed details to be shown in greater brilliance - also, oil dried more slowly allowing more mixing of colors. The figures in the painting seem to be set in stone and they also adhere to the rules of perspective (which might not seem like a big deal now, but it was then, there is no perspective in earlier medieval paintings).  Van Eyck painted both - religious and secular paintings. He took many commissions but he was also a court painter and king Philip always made sure he was well taken care of and could paint whatever he wanted. He was the only Netherlandish painter to sign his paintings with a writing "Als ik kan" which means "All I can, or as best as I can". In Medieval times, people would not sign their paintings, or would add letters of apology for the imperfection to their work.