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Digital Image Processing of The Ghent Altarpiece: Supporting the painting’s study and conservation treatment

Hanging in the Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, is The Ghent Altarpiece, also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (see Figure 1). According to an inscription on the outer frames, it was painted by brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck for Joos Vijd and?his wife Elisabeth Borluut in 1432. It is one of the most admired and influential paintings in the history of art and has given rise to many intriguing questions that have been puzzling art historians to date [11].

Moreover, the material history of the panels is very complicated. They were hidden, dismantled, moved away, stolen, and recovered during riots, fires and wars. The recovery of the panels by the U.S. Army in the Nazi hoards deep in the Altaussee salt mines has particularly marked memories. One panel was stolen in 1934 and never recovered. Besides varying conservation conditions, the panels underwent numerous restoration treatments and were even partially painted over.