The Ghent Altarpiece

Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings titled  “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.” It had such detail and realistic portrayal of people, that the “Ghent Altarpiece,” as it is also known, is considered one of the most influential paintings ever made, though it is not commonly known.

In 1432, it was first installed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in what’s now Belgium. But the Altarpiece has been looted, burned and torn apart by multiple armies, including those of Napoleon and the Nazis.

After World War II, the Monuments Men brought it back to back to Ghent, Belgium. You may have learned about The Monuments Men via a movie by that name about this group set up by the Allied armies to protect cultural heritage from the Nazis.

One of the panels, titled "The Just Judges” is still missing following its theft in 1934.

Enter modern technology. The freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can now be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts and Culture. Their robotic Art Camera took about 4,000 high-resolution close-ups of the artwork and used those to create the highest ever resolution image ever made of the panels. You can zoom as much as you’d like into more than 8 billion pixels.

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