In order to revive the art of tapestry-making, in the early years of the seventeenth century Henry IV ( 1589- 1610) brought Flemish weavers to France and put them to work in ateliers in Paris or sent them to provincial towns. Tapestries were woven in the Parisian ateliers of the Faubourg Saint Marcel, the Faubourg Saint Germain, and the Galeries du Louvre during the first half of the seventeenth century. In the Louvre they were made after the designs of the painter Simon Vouet, who had been recalled from Rome in 1627 to assist in this enterprise.
93, 94. TWO TAPESTRIES FROM THE STORY OF ARTEMESIA
Artemesia, Queen of Caria and widow of King Mausolus, was considered to be a classical prototype of Catherine de' Medici, Queen of France and widow of Henry II ( 1547- 1559). The series of hangings called the Story of Artemesia is based on a narrative by Nicolas Houel, a Parisian apothecary, written in Catherine's honor in 1562. The designs are the work of Antoine Caron and Henri Lerambert; almost all are preserved in the Cabinet des Estampes and the Louvre in Paris and in the National Library in Madrid.
No sixteenth-century tapestries of the Story of Artemesia survive. The tapestries from this series that are included in the exhibition were woven in the atelier of the Faubourg Saint Marcel in Paris in the first half of the seventeenth century. An inventory of 1627 shows that there were then seventy-eight pieces from the series either finished or in the course of production--striking evidence of the popularity of the designs.
93. HERALDS ON HORSEBACK. Mobilier National, Paris
Wool and silk. 13 feet 2 inches × 11 feet 5 inches
Heralds are announcing an assembly of the states of the kingdom of Caria. One of them wears a Polish bonnet, which recalls the fact that Henry III ( 1574- 1589), the son of Catherine de' Medici, was made King of Poland in 1573. The mark of FranÇois de la Planche, a Flemish weaver whom Henry IV had installed in Paris, appears in the selvage.