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

THE XVI CENTURY

The mediaeval tradition lasted well into the sixteenth century, and its final expression in tapestry is exemplified in two great series of hangings, the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Saint Remi, that were made for churches in Rheims. The Paris weavers who made the set of the Story of Saint Mamas for Cardinal Givry and the celebrated Diana set for Diane de Poitiers, as well as those who worked at Fontainebleau for Francis I ( 1515- 1547) and produced the series known as the Gallery of Francis I, adopted the new renaissance style and were much under the influence of French painting of the school of Fontainebleau. In spite of the excellence of their productions, during the Renaissance the weavers of France found themselves competing with the equally skilled but more extensively patronized weavers of Brussels. As a result, French production rapidly declined in the second half of the sixteenth century.

84-91. THE LIFE OF THE VIRGIN. Rheims Cathedral Treasury

The set of tapestries depicting the life of the Virgin to which these hangings belong was presented in 1530 to the cathedral of Rheims by the archbishop Robert de Lenoncourt ( 1509- 1532), to be hung in the great church during high festivals and ceremonies of state, especially the coronation of the king. It was undoubtedly designed and woven by the same artists who made the set showing the life of Saint Remi which was presented by the same archbishop to the church of Saint Remi at Rheims. Whether these artists had their atelier at Rheims is not known.

The seventeen hangings in the set made for the cathedral, eight of which are included in the exhibition, represent the attributes of the Virgin and episodes in her life taken from accounts in the canonical and Apocryphal gospels, the Bible of the Poor, and the Speculum humanae Salvationis ("The Mirror of Human Salvation"). They show not only the main events in the Virgin's life but the episodes, chiefly from the Old Testament, which prefigured them and the prophets who foretold them. The coats of arms in the tapestries are those of Archbishop Lenoncourt and the metropolitan

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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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