Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent
Saint Bavo's Cathedral Ghent

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Restoration "Mystic Lamb"


Restoration Cathedral




(c) foto's:

Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent
© www.lukasweb.be-Art in Flanders vzw,
foto Hugo Maertens

The Mystic Lamb

"Hubrecht van Eyck, the most famous painter ever known,
started this work of art; his brother Jan, who was second in the art,
finished the task at the request of Joos Vijd.
With this verse the donor consigns the work to your charge on May 6th 1432. Admire what they have done for you".

(Free translation of the quatrain on the polyptych)

This painting by Hubrecht and Jan van Eyck is the principal work of the Flemisch school in the 15th century.

The main theme is the glorification or the heavenly apotheosis of man's salvation and sanctification by the sacrifice of Christ. This subject is treated in a more visionary than narrative or dramatic manner.

It is painted on oak panels; the paint consists of mineral pigments in a cement of drying oil.

Historical background


A five-year restoration campaign of the work by the Van Eyck brothers from the 15th century started in the Fall of 2012.  The cost of the restoration is projected to be 1,4 million euro.

The restoration is being be carried out by the “Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage” (KIK – IRPA). The trustees of the Saint-Bavo cathedral have appointed Mrs. Anne van Grevenstein-Kruse, emeritus professor of Conservation and Restoration at the University of Amsterdam, to steer the project.  An international advisory committee monitors its execution.

The restoration of the painting is necessary in order to prevent further hardening of the coats of varnish which may threaten the picture itself. At the same time the panels will be strengthened. Old touchups and paint-overs will be removed. Following that, new touchups will be applied where necessary and a new coat of varnish will be applied.

The treatment of the panels takes place in the Museum of Fine Arts in Gent using a phased approach. Visitors to the museum are able to follow the work in  progress. The museum has set up a safe space to enable life viewing of the ongoing restoration activities.

During the entire restoration campaign, the Ghent Altarpiece itself will remain on view in the Saint-Bavo cathedral, except for the panel undergoing restoration.

This unique project will be extensively documented. The Province of East Flanders takes the lead to provide information to a wider public. Educational programs and special exhibitions relating to this restoration event are being held in the Provincial Cultural Centre in the Caermersklooster in Ghent.



Other Pieces of Art

The cathedral holds an immense collection of religious art and artefacts .
The oldest of our pieces date back to the 8th century,
the youngest from the late 1990’s.



There are currently four organs in the cathedral.
The crypt houses two small modern organs.
In the upper church, pride of place goes to the organ
commissioned by bishop Antonius Triest in 1653.




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