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Artium Quaestiones — [1].1979

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■Zdzisław Kępiński ■



There is no other portrait by Jan van Eyck which would appeal by
means of three inscriptions, as it takes place in case of a portrait of a
young man emerging from behind a stone parapet. 1 Although its meaning
was interpreted in many different ways, no finał explanation has been
stated up till now.

There is no doubt about the author’s signature on the parapet, which
confirms that the work was executed by Jan van Eyck in 1432: “Aetujmj
a[n]no d[omi]ni. 1432.10. die octobris. a ioh[anne] de Eyck”.

The other iwo inscriptions, placed on this parapet, bring about contro-
versial comments. Their significance lays in a fact that the unusuał monu-
mentalization of the portrait, by means of introducing an element of a stone
błock as a base for a bust, implicates the painter’s desire to stress the
prestige of a portrayed man in the eyes of a public, so that the portrayed
man seems to be a significant person. The proper reading of these in-
scriptions can reveal the name of the man.

To foilow the tracę systematicalły, we shoułd consider all the presen-
tational elements of the painting as a structural unity of the artistic lan-
guage of Jan van Eyck, and we should analyse what has been presented
and by what means.

The shape of the painting is elongated in the perpendicular and it has
the proportions dissimilar to any other portrait by Jan van Eyck. The
author’s choice of proportions was inspired by a wish to introduce the
element of a stone błock which constitutes the base of the portrait. This
rnotif, presumably, must have been of great significance to the artist if he
had decided to apply such an unusual shape to his work. The presentation

1 Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a young Man, National Gallery, London 33,5X18,8 cm,
n.d. signed and dated 1432. [Inscription is ąuoted here with spelling TYM. W0EOC
after M. Davies’ work (see notę 3), there W stands for co].
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