It’s called “Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, better known as the Ghent Altarpiece of 1432, [which] ranks among the most significant works of art in Europe. Housed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. . .” to quote the website that describes just what this post is intended to aim you at. The Ghent Altarpiece is made up of ten wooden panels covered with paint that have somehow managed to survive 580 years of European history. It comes from a time that is so different to our time that it might as well be from another planet. If you’re the sort who likes to “dig deeper” and find out the who’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s of new things that you encounter, you can find more information about this piece of art here and here
But the point of this post is this website, which will give you something you can’t get from seeing the thing in person: A really close up view.
And it’s also about something you can’t get from seeing the thing in person, something that hasn’t been seen since the work was finished 580 years ago:
This website also gives you the opportunity to see something that has previously been visible in this detail to only a select few, and anybody anywhere in the world who has access to a computer and an internet connection can go there (always assuming their government isn’t “protecting” them from this “dangerous” website), look at this artwork to their heart’s content and study it in great detail.
Artwork abolishes time. It can connect the viewer instantaneously to the mind of its creator at the point in time of its creation. The internet abolishes space. It can connect the user to something or someone halfway around the globe in a matter of seconds. I cannot travel in time, and the chances of my actually traveling in space to see this piece of art in person are microscopically tiny. But via the internet I can go to this website in a fraction of a second and spend weeks studying this artwork if I want to. I can use the images this website makes available to me as a window to peer through into a world that once was, use it as a tool to learn about that world and the people in it — how they lived and what was important to them.
This whole idea of connections, both via internet in real time, and via artwork through intervening time, recalls to my mind what the husband of a dear friend would say when he called her on the phone. She would answer the phone, and he would say, “I’m here. Are you there?” That’s what connections are all about, isn’t it?