Jan Van Eyck: The Lamb Of God

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With the advent of oil paintings during the Northern and Florentine Renaissance and an adherence to religious beliefs, Jan van Eyck began to include religious subjects in his work. Numerous religious symbols can be seen in his work, whether they are depictions of Mary, or tiny, miniscule symbols of Christ. In his most notable piece, the Ghent Altarpiece, van Eyck disguises religious symbols, most notably Christ as the Lamb of God. The Ghent Altarpiece features twelve panels, each showing one aspect of the Christian faith. Christian scripture influenced Jan van Eyck to depict Christ as a symbol of purity, sacrifice and propitiation.
In his life, van Eyck was influenced by Christian iconography to depict Christ as a lamb because he is a symbol of purity. In the
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To expiate man of his sins, Christ sacrificed himself. According to the Christian faith, sacrifice has always been a part of God’s declaration. Forgiveness of sin required bloodshed. “And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife” (CBN Bible, Gen. 3.21). Even from the beginning of mankind, blood had to be shed in order to cover for the sins of man, in this case Adam and Eve’s loss of innocence. Christ, even today, is commonly referred to as the “Lamb of God” because of his sacrifice for man. This “Lamb of God” is referenced in van Eyck’s work, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, on the bottom-center panel of the Ghent Altarpiece (Eyck). Inscribed on the Altar is John 1:29, “ECCE AGNUS DEI QUI TOLLIT PECCATA MUNDI.” In the Bible, John 1:29 reads, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (CBN Bible, Jhn 1.29). The lamb, in Christian iconography, is a symbol of sacrifice and the Christ’s blood shed to redeem and expiate man. By depicting Christ as a lamb, van Eyck also draws the connection between Christ and his
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