IN the summer of 1946 an extraordinary collection of the finest tapestries woven in France from the fourteenth century down to our own day was exhibited in Paris under the auspices of the Louvre. This exhibition provided the most complete display of the ancient and lovely art of woven pictures ever staged, including as it did the outstanding examples in the public and private collections of France. During the months following, important selections from the exhibition were shown at Amsterdam, Brussels, and London. Now it is the privilege of this Museum to present the greater part of the original Paris exhibition in New York.
Thanks to the co-operation of the French Government, the cruiser Georges Leygues has brought to America two hundred historic hangings, which will be shown in the Museum for fourteen weeks following the opening ceremonies on November 21. Rarely, if ever, have we been able to present such a stirring loan exhibition. Here, for example, is a sequence of twenty-four panels from the incomparable fourteenth-century Apocalypse tapestries, one of the greatest treasures of the museum at Angers and one of the most celebrated achievements of French art. Here, too, are the complete series of hangings illustrating the legend of Saint Stephen from the Cluny Museum in Paris and, from that same source, six tapestries representing the Lady with the Unicorn, which remind us so happily of our own Unicorn series at The Cloisters. The famous Gobelins factory is represented by such sumptuous hangings as the History of the King series, lent by the Mobilier National, five of the series depicting the Hunts of Louis XV, lent by the château at Compiègne, and other equally extraordinary products. It is impossible to select for special comment all the masterpieces from such a consistently distinguished catalogue.
The exhibition also includes a representative collection of tapestries designed and woven in France in our own day. We in America may well find in these contemporary creations the most convincing evidence of the vigor and significance of this typically French art. Taken together, these ancient and modern tapestries give a clear and balanced picture of the culture and civilization of France over more than five centuries. None of them has ever before crossed the