The van Eyck’s designed the Ghent Altarpiece as a polyptych, a painting constructed of multiple wooden panels that compose a work of art. When closed, the outside of the altarpiece illustrates scenes on each of the panels that harmonize into a single painting of the Annunciation. The outer composition of the altarpiece is arranged into two sections, the top and bottom segments.
At top of the altarpiece, four figures with banners overhead sit in the archways of the frame. With the exception of one, the figures appear to be viewing the scenery below. In the center of the altarpiece, the artists illustrate a scene of the Annunciation. Standing at the left of the panel is an interpretation of the Angel Gabriel, which appears before the Virgin Mary. The van Eyck’s depicted the Angel Gabriel holding white lilies. At right of the scene, the Virgin Mary is illustrated reading a manuscript. In response to the angel’s presence, she stands with her arms crossed upon her chest ready to receive Gabriel’s blessings. Incorporating symbolism in the painting, the artists represents the Holy Spirit with a figure of a white dove hovering over the head of the Virgin. The two figures are portrayed in conversation with inscriptions emerging from the figures’ mouths. The artists exhibit the two figures wearing massive, white- cloth garments that fold and spread across the floor. The artists portray the scene in the room of a multi – story building with windows that overlook the cityscape in the background. With the use of one point linear perspective, the Van Eyck’s give depth and symmetry to the scenery by delineating the orthogonal to a central point in the center of the room.
On the lower portion of the altarpiece, the vans Eyck’s exhibit the patrons in framed niches that make up the lower register of the painting. The patrons, who are kneeling before statues of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, are dressed in saturated robes. The Saints, which are depicted in the center recesses, are painted with folding garments that suggests the figures are carved marble sculptures.
When open, the altarpiece reveals a glorious painting of the “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” that is rich in color. On the upper left wing of the polyptych, the Eyck’s present a nude portrait of Adam holding a fig leaf. The artists use of illusionistic foreshortening fools the viewer into believing the figure is stepping out of the niche. Standing before a podium to Adam’s left are a heavenly choir of angels dressed in exquisitely colored robes and lavish jewelry. The artists illustrated the robes with a floral pattern of golden embroidery in fine detail. Below the choir, on the lower register of the left panel, is a scene of a cavalry of knights and kings bearing the banner of the cross. Riding behind the knights, on a separate panel, are a group of horsemen on steeds that are prepared to gallop.
At the right wing of the altarpiece, the brothers present a nude portrait of Eve holding a fruit in her hand. To Eve’s right is an ensemble of angels adorned with crowns of jewels and fine robes. The robes, which