Madonna of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck

Madonna of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck

What to watch

Nicholas Rolin (1376-1462), the Chancellor of Burgundy and Brabant, was one of the richest men in Europe. A painting known as 'The Madonna of Chancellor Rolin' by Northern Renaissance painter Jan van Eyck, was commissioned by Rolin and depicts him right in the middle of the scene. What is unusual about this work is how prevalent Rolin is; he is the same size and takes up the same space as the Virgin on the right. Rolin wears a heavily embroidered gold brocade jacket trimmed with mink fur to show off his wealth and also Van Eyck's ability to represent a variety of textures. This sense of realism is a major characteristic of the Northern Renaissance. Learn more about this work in our new film presented by Juliet Bailey.

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Did You Know? 

There is thought to be a self-portrait of Van Eyck hidden in the painting? If you look beyond the figures of Rolin and the Virgin, who are seated in a loggia in the foreground, you will find a garden in the background which looks onto a vast landscape. Van Eyck has added these elements to create a sense of depth. He uses tricks such as the tiled floor and the two figures in the garden looking onto the landscape to draw our eyes further into the painting and create a sense of receding space. One of the figures wears a red turban, similar to the one Van Eyck wears in his assumed self-portrait, which has inspired the idea that these figures are the artist himself and his assistant.