|The Ghent Altarpiece, 1432, Jan van Eyck|
On the lower tier, in the same infinite detail characterizing Flemish paintings, is a single, panoramic scene spread over five panels depicting the "Adoration of the Lamb." The lower tier alone has over one-hundred individual figures ranging from full length foreground figures to mere heads in the crowd groupings. In the backgrounds are cities, cathedrals, and all manner of exotic plant life; all painted with the same exacting realism pioneered by van Eyck and destined to become the hallmark of the Northern Renaissance. The overall effect is so hard to describe as to demand comparison in terms of color, detail, and scope to a modern-day motion picture. Nearly a hundred years after its completion, no less an artistic personage than Albrecht Durer viewed the altarpiece and declared it "stupendous." Perhaps art historian, Erwin Panofsky, said it best regarding Van Eyck, "His eye was at one and the same time a microscope and a telescope."