Art in times of war: artinflanders.be meets News of the Great War

10 Mar 2022

Q: What does the artinflanders.be art and heritage image database have in common with the News of the Great War database of newspapers? A: They both offer the general public a glimpse into fascinating heritage collections in just a couple of clicks. But did you know that – conveniently – the two can also reinforce each other? Our interaction team is happy to tell you all about it.

As a lover of art and heritage, you’ll find plenty to attract you to artinflanders.be – where you can view and download more than 24,000 images from over 60 Flemish art and heritage collections, including of the Lamb of God triptych by the Van Eyck brothers.

Did you know that…

  • this world-famous work of art has for years been the most viewed and freely downloaded image on artinflanders.be?

  • a special exception was made for the panels to be allowed to leave Saint Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent for restoration – and that we took advantage of this unique opportunity to photograph them under ideal conditions in the restoration studio?

  • these photos were used for large banners in Ghent during the ‘Year of Van Eyck’, and for projections in the 'Lights on Van Eyck' exhibition in Saint Nicholas’ Church (Ghent) and the ‘Meet the Masters’ exhibition in the Dynasty Palace (Brussels)?

  • we also store all the photos of the restoration work carried out by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) at meemoo? There are no less than 3621 photos of the Lamb of God in the meemoo archive system in total. You can view some of them from artinflanders.be here.

But what else can you learn about the painting from our platforms? Meemoo’s interaction team tested it out – going back in time to pick up the trail of the Lamb of God in the News of the Great War database.

Meemoo and partners launched this platform in 2015 as part of the First World War centenary commemorations. You’ll find a wealth of digitised press articles from the time there: a unique resource for researchers and other interested parties. The clippings don’t just bear witness to the war itself; they also include details about socio-economic and cultural aspects in play at the time. And so also about art, as it turns out...

When all the pieces of the puzzle come together

All the text in the News of the Great War collection is searchable, so you can easily search for specific keywords. We found that the Lamb of God is easy to track down in the newspapers database, and were able reconstruct what happened to the work of art during the war – with contributions from De Gentenaar, Het Vlaamsche Nieuws and Het Volk, among others.

One thing is clear: the work of art’s whereabouts stirred up quite a lot of emotion. Rumours abounded that the panels had been taken to England to escape the clutches of German occupiers. But did the panels really make the crossing over the English Channel? And would they be coming back? Or were they still in Ghent after all? Delve into the rumours and learn how the Ghent Canon Van den Geyn’s cunning plan came to light after the war.

>> Read the full story here

Afbeelding: 'Archieffoto Lam Godsretabel: Terugkeer Lam Gods na het Verdrag van Versailles 1920', collectie Sint-Baafskathedraal Gent, artinflanders.be, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Want to get started yourself? At News of the Great War, you can search through more than 270,000 pages of press articles published during the First World War. Maybe you too will find inspiration for a subject at artinflanders.be. You can share your findings with us at info@artinflanders.be, or tag @artinflanders on Facebook or @artinflanders.be on Instagram.

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