A possible reflection of the painter (Jan van Eyck) in the Ghent Altarpiece
The use of reflection as a sign of the painters’ presence seems to be characteristic of Jan van Eyck. We find this in "The Arnolfini Portrait" and also in "The Virgin and Child with Canon Van der Paele". In both cases the painter is outside the represented space but his reflection demonstrates his presence in the real physical space where he is making the picture. These two examples are relatively well-known. The aim of the present paper is to suggest a third example, which till now has never been an object of attention. It seems that one can observe a similar phenomenon in the Ghent Altarpiece, in the scene of the Adoration of the Mystical Lamb. Two figures are reflected on the spherical surface of the Fontaine of Life. Who are these figures? Obviously they do not belong to the depicted scene, they are outside the pictorial space. We can guess that they are a reflection of the master (Jan van Eyck) and his assistance, as in the "Arnolfini Portrait". It is not excluded, however, that the reflection refers to the brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck.