What is the Ghent Altarpiece?

This large early Flemish work of art is the collaboration of two brothers.  It is believed they created this 11-foot by 14.5-foot masterpiece between 1420 and 1432.  The brothers, Jan Van and Hubert Eyck, designed this 18 panel treasured artwork for the Saint Bravo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium (Hence the name).  I carefully selected the Ghent Altarpiece for Operation Nightfall because it, or pieces of it, were stolen by the Germans in both World Wars.  The Treaty of Versailles (World War I) saw the stolen panels returned to Belgium.  However, in 1940 it was decided to send the Ghent to the Vatican in order to protect it.

The onset of World War II saw Italy declare itself an Axis power and the Ghent was held in transit inside France.  An agreement was reached and the painting found refuge inside a museum in Pau, France.  In 1942, Hitler ordered the Ghent to be seized from Pau, and brought to a Bavarian castle controlled by the Nazi party.  The painting was not secured until 1945, and was found inside a salt mine in Germany.  Reportedly, a panel was missing from the Altarpiece and it was recreated by the artist Jef Van der Veken as part of the restoration after the war.  Today the Ghent Altarpiece remains one of the treasures of Ghent, Belgium, and a survivor of Hitler’s art theft program.

In Operation Nightfall, I used fiction to bend reality in order to create a plausible historical narrative for the Ghent.  The painting, in particular the Adam panel, contains something impossible to fathom within the actual paintwork itself.  Something that couldn’t have existed in the 15th century.  That’s not to mention what the framework of the painting was hiding.  A secret dating back to the days of Jesus Christ, and a power few have ever encountered.