A Handbook to the Loan Exhibition of French Tapestries: Mediaeval, Renaissance and Modern, from the Public and Private Collections of France

By Metropolitan Museum Of Art | Go to book overview

PARIS, XIV CENTURY

Of the hundreds of tapestries woven for princely patrons in France in the fourteenth century, very few exist today.* The most important surviving examples are the superb series of the Apocalypse from Angers. If one excludes a few Germanic fragments of the twelfth to the fourteenth century and a few French examples, these are the oldest European tapestries known. Matchless in conception and composition, they demonstrate the magnificent achievements of the Paris ateliers in the fourteenth century.

1-24. SCENES FROM THE APOCALYPSE. Museum of Tapestries, Angers

The Apocalypse tapestries, which probably consisted originally of seven large hangings, were made to decorate the halls of the castle at Angers. The set was commissioned about 1375 by Louis I, Duke of Anjou, from the Parisian weaver and merchant Nicolas (sometimes called Colin) Bataille. According to the records, Louis borrowed a manuscript of the Apocalypse from the library of his brother, Charles V, King of France, for use in designing the tapestries and employed the king's painter Hennequin of Bruges (identified as Jean Bandol) to paint the cartoons. The date of the completion of the set is a matter of dispute. The fourth hanging, all the parts of which are shown in the exhibition, must have been woven before 1384, as it bears the cipher, an interlaced L and M, of Louis I of Anjou, who died in that year, and his wife, Marie of Brittany. It is probable that the last hanging was finished by the end of the fourteenth or the beginning of the fifteenth century.

The tapestries are said to have been taken to Arles for the wedding of Louis II of Anjou and Yolande of Aragon in 1400, but they were returned at once to the castle of Angers. Yolande, who died in 1442, willed the tapestries to her son René, and in 1474

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*
These include the tapestries of the Nine Worthies, made in Paris in the fourteenth century, in the Metropolitan Museum. The Arthur of this set has been shown in the Museum's Tapestry Hall since 1932. A considerable part of the rest of the set, a recent gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., will be placed on exhibition at The Cloisters as soon as necessary repairs have been made.

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A Handbook to the Loan Exhibition of French Tapestries: Mediaeval, Renaissance and Modern, from the Public and Private Collections of France
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • A Message from France ii
  • Preface iii
  • Introduction v
  • Paris, XIV Century 1
  • Arras, XV Century 6
  • Various French Ateliers XV Century 9
  • Works Ascribed to Ateliers of the Loire, About 1500 15
  • The XVI Century 21
  • The First Half of the XVII Century 25
  • The Gobelins Factory 1650-1700 28
  • The Beauvais and Gobelins Factories, About 1700 34
  • The XVIII Century 37
  • Modern Tapestries 41
  • General Bibliography 48
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