This was the final issue in the Europe Star Euro programme.
The coin shows the center part of Van Eyck’s famous double portrait of the prosperous Italian textile merchant Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife Constanza.
The Flemish painter Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390 – 1441) is without a doubt a true innovator. His fine brushstrokes and translucent oil painting techniques led to breathtaking results. The realism, eye for detail and perfection in both composition and colour control astounded many. The high praised court painter to Philip the Good was also one of the first to sign his own works, which was unusual at the time.
Although little is known about Van Eyck’s life, his works are well known. Only twenty of his paintings were preserved, but all are masterpieces. The famous Arnolfini portrait is considered one of the most original and complex paintings in Western art, because of its beauty, complex iconography, geometric orthogonal perspective, and expansion of the picture space with the use of a mirror. A simple corner of the real world had suddenly been fixed on to a panel as if by magic... For the first time in history the artist became the perfect eye-witness in the truest sense of the term. Some art historians consider the portrait an unique form of marriage contract, recorded as a painting. Signed and dated by van Eyck in 1434, it is, with the Ghent Altarpiece by the same artist and his brother Hubert, the oldest very famous panel painting to have been executed in oils rather than in tempera.