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Portrait of the Artist as a Posthumous Work in Progress. Van Eyck and the Politics of Posterity
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Jan van Eyck
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Portrait of the Artist as a Posthumous Work in Progress. Van Eyck and the Politics of Posterity

(Jenny Graham) The Low Countries - 2009, № 17, pp. 247-254

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The posthumous rise to fame of the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck (d.1441), who was celebrated during and after his lifetime but, like Vermeer, only reborn a hero in the nineteenth century, paints a particularly vivid picture of the shifting nature of artistic status. Above all, Van Eyck's story reminds us that often canonical greats are not born but made, refashioned not simply to suit changing taste, but specific cultural politics. It took the interventions of Napoleon, the Treaty of Versailles and Hitler, for example, to bring Van Eyck to worldwide attention. His was a name remade not only by changing artistic fashions, but by the politics of nation-building during the emergence of modern Europe.

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