Along with Van Eyck, Van der Weyden, an artist working in Brussells in the 15th century was one of the main artistic innovators.
His Ghent altarpiece looks like a sculpture – this is what the public at the time were used to seeing so Van der Weyden painted his figures in a box like space, crowded together and in realistic manner so that the figures look like sculptures. There is a lot of ingenious composition going on here : the figure of Christ and Mary reflect each other’s diagonal poses, the two outer figure act like brackets to the image, many of the figures and their gestures curve inwards towards the central figure.
The figures are painted realistically; there is stubble on Christ’s chin and the tears falling down the cheek of the woman on the left make you feel as if you want to wipe them away.
And the beautifully painted folds in Mary’s robe