A THOUSAND WORDS by Mary Elizabeth Podles
Jan van Eyck's The Madonna in a Church
We are so accustomed to oil paintings that we seldom give the medium a second thought: it is essentially our default position for Old Master and fine art painting. But it was not always so. The sixteenth-century chronicler and art historian Giorgio Vasari credits Jan van Eyck with the invention of oil painting in the fifteenth century; while this is not strictly true, Van Eyck's mastery of the oil technique probably made Italian painters aware of its range of possibilities for the first time. It is worth a look.
In early Italian and Byzantine painting, the color . . .