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Jan van Eyck By: Taylor Plunkett Renaissance Significance on Society The Renaissance was the “rebirth” of society. The common people started to learn and think for themselves and that led to a slight separation from the Church. Thoughts became less focused on religion and more focused on literature and art. This time period brought out the “-isms” in people. The “-isms” are humanism, individualism, scientific naturalism, and secularism. About Jan van Eyck Jan van Eyck was a Flemish painter. His estimated date of birth is about 1395. In the early 1420’s, van Eyck was the court painter for John of Bavaria. After the death of John of Bavaria, van Eyck became the painter for Philip the Good. In 1454, he was named “the leading painter of his day” by humanist Bartolomeo Facio. Van Eyck’s painting was of both religious and secular subjects. He uses symbolism as well as realism to show a coexistence between the spiritual and material world. Jan van Eyck made the use of oil paints popular during the Renaissance. Self portrait of Jan van Eyck.1433 Portraits and the “-isms” Jan van Eyck was sought after as a portrait artist during the Renaissance. The amount of people getting their portrait painted increased vastly. Typically, only the upper class and the clergy would get their portraits done. However, with the spread of humanism and individualism the number of middle class wanting their portrait was really affected. Humanism taught the middle class that things did not always have to be focused on religion, they can be centered on the ideals of humans too. To add to that, individualism told people to think more for themselves. What better way to do that than with a self portrait by van Eyck? Portrait of Margaret van Eyck, 1439 (Left); The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434; Portrait of a Man with Carnation, 1435 (Right) Portraits and the “-isms” One does not particularly find influence from secularism or scientific naturalism in Jan van Eyck’s paintings.Van Eyck created many altarpieces as well as religious paintings in general. It does not appear to me that van Eyck believed religion should not play a role in public society, such as government and education. Jan van Eyck’s paintings did not have inspiration from scientific naturalism in my opinion because they did not focus on the specific anatomy and function of an individual or any other aspect of science. The Ghent Altarpiece-Singing Angels, 1427-29 (Above); Crucifiction, 1420-25 (Right) Spirit of the Renaissance I believe the portraits painted by Jan van Eyck reflect the spirit of the Renaissance. Not only do they show people starting to break away from the majority and do something for themselves but, they also support two of the four “isms”, humanism and individualism.