Jan van Eyck Picture Study for Homeschoolers

Jan van Eyck Picture Study - ahumbleplace.com

To read more about Charlotte Mason picture study and to see the other Picture Study Aids I have available, click here.

[Jan van Eyck] is considered the first painter of our age. Literature was not unknown to him and above all he was well versed in geometry, as he was in all the arts that contribute to the perfection of painting, so that he was able to discover many properties of colors that had been handed down from antiquity in the treatises of Pliny and other authors.

Bartolomeo Facio – Royal Historian for Alfonso I, King of Naples

When the moms of our homeschool co-op met last summer to begin planning the upcoming school year and I learned what period of history we were focusing on, I knew Jan van Eyck would have to be one of our artists. In general, I tend to like most early Netherlandish art and he, being the quintessential early Netherlandish artist, is definitely a favorite of mine. The detail he put in his paintings is somewhat mind-boggling, especially when considering the size of some of them. I also love the clarity of his work and the rich colors he used.

Though he is held in high regard, little is known about Jan van Eyck’s early life. He seemed to suddenly materialize in the annals of history when a payment to him was recorded in John III of Bavaria’s court in 1422. It is thought that he was born between 1390 and 1395 and that the majority, if not all, of his siblings, were also artists. In fact, several of his pieces, including the more well-known Ghent Altarpiece, are suspected to actually be either collaborations with or the work of his brother Hubert. Despite the mystery surrounding his life and work, he is considered a giant in the world of art history with at least one of his works included in the group of most recognized art in the world. In fact, the National Gallery of London recently posted that his The Arnolfini Portrait is the most viewed painting on their site. Giorgio Vasari, author of the famed 16th-century Lives of the Artists, even credited him with the invention of oil painting.

I’m excited to announce today that my newest Picture Study Aid, as well as accompanying prints, is now available in both print and PDF format! The book includes a brief summary of his life, key topics about seven of his paintings, and printable versions or professionally printed copies of the pieces discussed (without artist name or titles).

AmblesideOnline users, please note that the pieces selected for this Picture Study Aid are not the same ones chosen for the AO Artist Study rotation. You can find printable versions of those pieces here.


This is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, and that is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of there being, “no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.” (vol 6 pg 216)


You may download it below for personal use in your own homeschool (Ambleside Online, another Charlotte Mason curriculum, or otherwise). If you have any feedback or suggestions, please fill out this form!

Jan van Eyck Picture Study - ahumbleplace.com
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