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    Sale 5201

    Style & Spirit

    27 November 2007, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 332

    A FRENCH MYTHOLOGICAL TAPESTRY

    GOBELINS, THE DESIGN BY NICOLAS BERTIN, THE CARTOON BY ROBERT BONNART, CIRCA 1704 - 1720.

    Price Realised  

    A FRENCH MYTHOLOGICAL TAPESTRY
    GOBELINS, THE DESIGN BY NICOLAS BERTIN, THE CARTOON BY ROBERT BONNART, CIRCA 1704 - 1720.
    Depicting 'Apollo and the Serpent Python' from the Metamorphoses series, probably slightly reduced.
    111in. (282cm.) high; 113in. (287cm.) wide


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    The first records mentioning the Metamorphoses series are the correspondences between the 5th Earl of Exeter with his steward and upholsterer for Burghley House, Lincolnshire, discussing the purchase of made-to-order tapestries of this design from Jean Jans in 1680 and 1681. The next documentary evidence is in the French Royal inventory of 1684 that lists seven Gobelins tapestries (no '92') of the Metamorphoses woven with gold-thread. Unfortunately none of the early inventories list the subjects so that only five of the original seven subjects have been identified.
    The original seven subjects were then expanded by a further fifteen panels, known as petite tenture, that were part-pased on paintings paid for between 1704 and 1706 by such artists as Jean Baptiste de Fontenay, Louis de Boulogne (d.1733), Nicolas Bertin (d.1736), Antoine Coypel (d.1722) and Charles de la Fosse (d.1716). The old and new designs were freely combined, but the full series was certainly never woven as a whole. These tapestries appear to have initially only been woven for private patrons and Gobelins only records the first official production of seven subjects for Louis XIV in 1714. The cartoons for the series are last mentioned in 1736 as ruined. It can thus be assumed that the series was woven between 1680 and 1736.

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