The sale of King Louis Philippe's possessions in 1852 featured a set of four tapestries of this series that included metal-thread (only few versions of this series have metal-thread). Intriguingly it is the only recorded set with borders identical to the offered lot. Edith Standen outlines the provenance for the Louis Philippe tapestry to the sale in 1962 (European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, cat. 49, p. 323). The tapestry in the 1962 sale has an identical width and the main field is bordered at exactly the same details as the offered lot, with the exception of the lower end that shows agricultural implements along a strip that extends beyond this lot. Interestingly in the image of the catalogue that strip appears to be added or have been previously cut. It remains therefore a real possibility that the offered lot is the tapestry sold from Louis Philippe's possessions.
HISTORIE OF THE SERIES
This tapestry, depicting Summer (see lot 123 for a version of 'Winter') from the series The Seasons of Lucas, was probably originally designed by a Flemish artist of the school of Bernaert van Orley (d. 1541) in about 1535 and not as suggested by the name which it acquired in the 19th century, by Lucas van Leyden. This tapestry belongs to a series that consists of four panels and must have been designed by the same hand or workshop as The Months of Lucas, later frequently woven at the Royal Gobelins Tapestry Manufacture. The source for the Paris versions of this series were twelve Brussels tapestries that belonged to Louis XIV, woven circa 1535 and destroyed in 1797. Although this series is not mentioned by M. Fenaille specifically, the colouring and technique relates to the works executed in Paris in the 17th century. It is possible that this is the set described as Les Mois de L'Année in M. Fenaille, Etat Général des Tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1923, p. 301, but of which no specific tapestries are known. The version in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Standen, op. cit., p. 324) extends very slightly farther to the right, has a varying border and also depicts Ceres in a cloud in the middle above the two men holding the scythes (she is lacking in some versions).
The two figures of the reapers, particularly the one seen from the back, as well as the cart, with the rider and the lady with the large hat sitting on the cart, are very closely related to those in the mid-16th century series Medallion Months, now in the Art Institute of Chicago (H. Göbel, Tapestries of the Lowlands, New York, 1924, cat. 146).
A complete set, previously in the collection of The Viscount Wimborne, Canford Manor, Dorset and later in the Brookline Trust Company, was sold at Christie's, New York, 26 April 1990, lots 6 - 9, this subject being lot 8 and a single tapestry depicting Summer was sold at Christie's, London, 1 October 1998, lot 231 (the right side of the subject is to a different design). A further version of Summer, albeit much smaller, is in the Cleveland Museum of Art, while another was in the collection of Admiral Beatty and illustrated in 'Hanover Lodge, Regent's Park, the Residence of Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, K.C.B.', Country Life, 1 May 1915, p. 591.
(E. Standen, European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, cat. 49, pp. 322 - 330).