The sinister tone and staggeringly detailed, tight-lipped figures of Jan van Eyck betray the cold origins of the 15th century painter. Rejecting the idealistic traditions of the renaissance, van Eyck was fiercely meticulous in his portrayal of reality, creating masterpieces which seem like factual records of religious events. His portraits have also left an almost literal snap shot of the faces of the great and the good of his time. His brutally sharp rendering of flesh, material and architecture magnetically pulls his viewers into the painting’s environment and gives each a strangely convincing, often eerie depth of field and perspective. Most famous for completing the Ghent Altarpiece, van Eyck’s beautifully ornate yet sobering and faithful approach to the depiction of nature inspired the religious fervour of his countrymen and the slavish imitation of hundreds of admiring artists since.