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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:53

Video transcript

there's this marvelous way that Yan van Eyck can create a sense of the real even when he's representing the impossible Mary is impossibly large within this exceptionally beautiful and perhaps impossibly beautiful gothic Church she fills this space and is shown here as the Queen of Heaven with a crown on her head studded with jewels and a gown embroidered with gold we know what we have before us is a vision a vision of Mary in a church not unlike the one that people would go to in the 15th century which must have made this a very real vision if we look to the far back we can see this beautiful tracery then within that wooden carving we can actually see stories of the life of the Virgin Mary through the doorway we can also see two angels that seem to be singing from a hymn book and if we look just over Mary's left shoulder we can see a sculpture that shows the Virgin Mary holding her son just as the Virgin Mary before us holds Christ it's as though that sculpture in the niche behind Mary has come alive and his flesh and blood before us and what makes this also much more believable is what Van Eyck is able to do with light we see it flooding in the Gothic windows and two pools of sunlight on the floor in front of Mary we know that we're looking toward the east end of the church therefore the light that we see reflected on the floor is coming from the windows on the north and those spots of light would be impossible in that case so the light must be mystical supernatural this painting is about the way that light passes through the great windows of a Gothic cathedral into its sacred interior space because that functioned in the medieval mind as an important symbol of Mary's chastity of her virginity this is an ideal church this architecture doesn't exist in the world but is yan van Eyck's van say of the perfect interior for Mary to enthrone Mary this is a way of representing the heavenly sphere in an environment that we can recognize this painting was stolen in 1877 and although the panel itself was recovered its frame was not the frame however had an inscription which was recorded and it read as follows as the Sunbeam through the glass passes but not stains so the Virgin as she was a virgin still remains