- 1432 the altar was consecrated.
Bros. Van Eyck
- 1521 Düurer mentions it in his diary as a very `delicious`painting.
- 1556 during the time of Iconoclasm in Gent it was hidden in the church tower and then later
in the city hall.
- 1586 it was returned to the church, St. Bavo and then two hundred years later the Puritan,
Joseph II visited the city of Gent and was offended by the nudity of Adam and Eve panels. They
were therefore outlawed and taken to the library of the cathedral.
- 1794 during the French Revolution , the southern Netherlands were invaded by the French
army and the four central paintings were taken away to Paris, Musee Central d Art.
- When Napoleon returned to France for the HUNDRED DAYs, the Bourbon King, Ludwig
XVIII went into hiding in Gent. After Napoleon was beheaded, in gratitude for his treatment at
that time, King Ludwig XVIII returned the paintings to Gent, where all pieces of the altar were
- 1821 the head of St. Bavo sold the altar wings to a Dutch merchant. The merchant then sold
them to the British collector, Solly for 10,000 Gulden. Solley sold it for 400,000 Gulden to the
- 1861, The plates of Adam and Eve which had been lost for some time were recovered and
purched by the Brussel Museum.
- 1914, at the beginning of the WW1 parts of the altar were in three different Cities, Brussels,
Gent and Berlin. Shortly before the Germans invaded Gent the altar disappeared to safety.
- 1918 two weeks after the armistice the paintings were taken out of hiding. The Treaty of
Versailles gave the opportunity of reuinting the entire altar in Gent. Article 247 obliges Germany
to return six paintings from the altar to Belgium.
- 1934, it is discovered that the panel of 'The Righteous Judge' and its reverse, John the Baptist
is missing. After a few days the Bishop of Gent receives a letter from the thief who asks one
million Belgium Francs as ransom. He had separated the two paintings, putting the 'John the
Baptist' panel in the baggage claim at the train Station. The baggage ticket was enclosed in the letter
and the painting was retrieved. The other half, 'The Righteous Judge', was lost, although the
thief, who was a businessman attempting to resolve bankruptcy confessed to the deed but died
before disclosing the location of the painting.
- 1940 the Germans again march into Belgium. The Belgium government wants to protect the
altar in the Vatican, however, Italy's entrance into the war on the side of Germany makes this
impossible. France offers Belgium instead the Pau Castle. However, the hiding place does not
remain concealed from the Germans.
-1942 Adolf Hitler gives the order to bring the altar to Schloß Neuschwanstein.
-1944 When the Schloss is no longer secure from aerial attacks the altar is taken to the salt mine
The painting was taken by the Nazis inside the salt mine at Altaussee where, in the middle of the
mineral chamber, they had built a pavillion of wood to store art works. The panels were stored and
maintained there with much care. However, the largest panel, 'The Adoration of the Lamb', could
not be put there because it was too large to pass through the narrow tunnels leading in and out
of the cavern.
1945 - the altar was put into the collecting point in Munich and from there taken to Brussels. On
the day it was transported to Brussels security was so high that no other airplane was allowed to
enter or depart from the airport. In Brussels the altar was given ceremoniously by the
Americans to the Belgium Prince.
(Extracted from Kubin, Ernst: Sonderauftrag Linz, Vienna, 1989)
Since November, 1945 the altar (12 oak panels with 26 individual paintings, 350x243 cm closed, 350x450 cm open, 1432) is again at its place in Gent at St.Bavo.