In 1434 a wealthy Renaissance merchant commissioned a portrait with his wife. The Arnolfini Marriage is one of the most famous, as well as one of the most studied, paintings of all time but a new discovery has thrown the art world into confusion.
The repercussions are immense, leading historians to question accepted views of marriage and society; of fame and fortune; and of trade and travel. But it had also led some to question the entire study of history itself.
Explore the mysteries of this enigmatic masterpiece in the programme transcscript.
If you'd like to find out more about the great works of art, the best place to start are those artworks themselves - there are now large numbers of galleries which make at least some of their catalogue available online.
The National Gallery in London is online.
If you'd like to take your interest further, we've got some suggested reading for you to dip into.
The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Schools
Lorne Cambell, National Gallery 1998
Early Netherlandish Painting
Erwin Panofsky, Harvard University Press 1953
The Art of the Northern Renaissance
Craig Harbison, Orion 1995
The experts who shaped our insight into the painting:
Craig Harbison is professor of art history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has a special interest in the Northern Renaissance, in particular the art of Flanders, the Netherlands, France, and Germany in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Evelyn Welch is reader in the School of European Studies at the University of Sussex. Her current research interests include the role of women in the Renaissance and issues of Renaissance consumption.
Martin Kemp is professor of the history of art at Oxford University. Author of Leonardo da Vinci. The Marvellous works of man and nature and numerous studies of the relationships between representations in art and science, he is a regular contributor to 'Nature' and curated a major exhibition, 'Know Thyself' on the art and science of the human body for the Hayward Gallery in October 2000.
Jacques Paviot is professor of history at the Sorbonne in Paris. Since discovering a mention of the Arnolfini Marriage in the Lille archives he has developed a new research interest in van Eyck and the Arnolfini painting.