This tapestry almost certainly formed part of a set of eight tapestries of this design supplied to Joseph Marie, 2nd Duc de Boufflers between 1737 and 1742. The date on the offered lot is a partially rewoven section and appears to be a mistake produced by the restorer and should probably read 1737.
JOSEPH MARIE, 2ND DUC DE BOUFFLERS
The arms on this tapestry are those of the Ducs de Boufflers, who earned the hereditary right to display the standards of a Colonel General of the Dragoons and the flags of a Colonel of the Gardes Françaises which are behind his arms, through the distinguished military career as maréchal of Louis François (1644 - 1711). It was, however, his son Joseph Marie (1706 - 1747), himself a distinguished soldier, who commissioned nine tapestries from Beauvais, the ceiling of a dais, completed in 1738, and eight portières, to which the offered lot belongs. The commission of the tapestries may be due to his marriage of Marie-Angélique de Neufville de Villeroy, duchesse de Boufflers, (1707 - 1787) on 15 February 1734.
The second Duc was appointed colonel d'infanterie in 1720 and then maréschal de camp in 1740. He was Pair de France, and in addition Vicomte de Ponches and Comte d'Etoges as well as governor of Flanders and Hainaut. He bought the château in Etoges in the Marne, which subsequently passed to Marie Leczinska in 1718. He also served in Bavaria and Bohemia in 1743 and took part in the capture of Menin and Ypres. He further participated in the battles of Fontenoy and Raucoux. He was sent by Louis XV to help Genoa, under attack by the Imperial armies, and beat Count Schullembourg.
JEAN-BAPTISTE OUDRY AND NICOLAS BESNIER
The signature of Oudry (1686 - 1755) indicates that he was the designer of this tapestry. A tapestry woven from the same cartoons and also signed 'J.B. Oudry' but dated 1733 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, would suggest that the group was conceived at or before that date (E. Standen, European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, vol. II, cat. 72, pp. 478 - 480). Some of the surviving examples are signed by Oudry and Besnier on the guard border, indicating that the set was woven when they were co-directors at the Beauvais Tapestry Workshop between 1734 and 1753.
Oudry initially signed a contract with the Beauvais tapestry workshop to supply eight large tapestry designs every three years in 1726. In 1734 he was then named co-director with Nicolas Besnier, who was mainly in charge of the business aspects of the workshop.
The above mentioned dais was lent to the 1964 exhibition at the Beauvais Hôtel de Ville (Trois Siècles de tapisseries de Beauvais, exhibition catalogue, Beauvais, 1964, no. 21). Tapestries to this design include the example at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and one in the Musée de Beauvais. Further, one was formerly in the Singer collection and is in a French private collection (signed 'Besnier et Oudry a Beauvais') and one dated 1735 was in the Prince Paul Galitzin sale, Paris, 10-11 March 1875, lot 218. This examples may be the same as that sold, Etude Couturier Nicolay, Paris, 31 March 1994, lot 79, which was also dated 1735. Another example, just signed but not dated, was in the sale of M. X.., Paris, 25 January 1921, lot 24 and was bought by Charles Picard. It may be the same that was subsequently lent by Jacques Seligman and Son to the Exhibition of Ancient Art Belonging to the International Trade at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam in 1936 as it was simply signed.