Thursday, April 02, 2015

Ghent I found to be an enormous, empty city, with an old Flemish gable-end peeping here and there from its rows of dull, white houses, and various tall and battered old church-towers - H James #QotD

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St. Bavo's Church, location of the "Adoration of the Lamb"
"Ghent I found to be an enormous, empty city, with an old Flemish gable-end peeping here and there from its rows of dull, white houses, and various tall and battered old church-towers looking down over deserted, sunny squares. In the middle of all this, in the stately church of St. Bavon, is the great local treasure, the "Adoration of the Lamb," by the brothers Van Eyck This is not only one of the pictures of Ghent, but one of the pictures of the world. It represents a large daisied meadow shut in with a great flowering tangle of hedges, out of which emerge various saints of either sex, carrying crowns and palms. In front are two other groups of apostles and prophets, all kneeling and worshipping. In the centre is an altar, surmounted with the fleecy symbol of the Word, and surrounded with a ring of adoring angels. Behind is a high horizon of blue mountains, and the silhouettes of three separate fantastic cities, all apparently composed of church-towers. The picture is too perfect for praise; the coloring seems not only not to have lost, but actually to have been intensified and purified, by time. One may say the same of the precious Memlings at Bruges — and this is all I can say of that drowsy little city of grassy streets and colossal belfries and sluggish
canals and mediaeval memories." p. 400-401

Henry James
Transatlantic Sketches (1875)



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