Information from the curator, 5 September 2014
The exhibition aims to shed light on the fate of the wings of the Ghent Altarpiece, the irrefutable magnum opus of Early Netherlandish painting by the van Eyck brothers. These wings were acquired for Berlin as part of the Solly Collection in 1821. In 1920 they were handed over to Belgium per a clause from the Treaty of Versailles as reparation for the devastation caused by the German attack on Belgium in World War I.
The exhibition will reconstruct the altarpiece in a kind of life-size installation, using copies of its four central panels, two of which were made in 1558 by Michiel Coxcie, two others painted in 1824, and original-size prints of the wings, made from photos taken around 1900 in Berlin. This reconstruction will be accompanied by a documentation focusing on the history of the altarpiece and its parts, particularly in the 19th century, including the presentation of the wings in the Berlin museum from 1830 to 1920.
An accompanying catalogue will explore the turbulent history of the Ghent Altarpiece in more detail, spanning the whole of its 580 years of existence. It will especially cover aspects like the famous inscription of the altarpiece, its reception in art and literature from the 15th to the 18th century, and the discussion and propaganda surrounding it in and after World War I.