Jan Van Eyck is the Flemish painter often credited as the first master, or even the inventor of oil painting. That he was an early master of the oil painting medium is certainly true. It is certainly untrue that he invented the technique.
In fact painting with oil dates as far back as the Indian and Chinese painters of the fifth century however Van Eyck was one of the earliest masters of the technique.
His use of oil paints in his detailed panel paintings, typical of the Netherlandish style, resulted in him being known as the father of oil painting.
Van Eyck's date of birth is unclear, c.1395 or sometime before this date is widely accepted as the best guess. Almost nothing is known of his early life but we do know that he entered the service of Philip the good, Duke of Burgundy in 1425.
The artist was held in high esteem by the Duke who was godfather to his son. Philip also paid a salary to Van Eyck, this was very unusual as most artists of the period relied on individual commissions for their livelihoods.
When the artist's salary became the subject of a dispute, Philip wrote to his treasurers stating, 'we could find no other artist to our liking who is so accomplished in his art and science', a measure of the artists value to the Duke.