ORIGINS OF THE SERIES
The Seasons of Lucas series was probably originally designed by a Flemish artist of the school of Bernaert van Orley in about 1535 although the name, which was erroneously given in the early 17th century, refers to Lucas van Leyden. The series was subsequently woven in Brussels and Bruges, while the Royal Gobelins versions appear to be based on a set of twelve Brussels tapestries that belonged to Louis XIV, woven circa 1535 and destroyed in 1797 to recouperate the silver and gold-thread in them. The series was first copied in Paris in the mid-17th century and then further altered and 'updated' for the weavings at Gobelins.
The first Gobelins version was probably woven for Colbert and lists the set in the inventory taken after his death in 1683, while the first weaving for King Louis XIV took place in 1688. Most of the 12 Gobelins sets recorded by Fenaille (Etat général des Tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1903, pp. 337 - 370), remained in the Royal collections while there are some unrecorded private weavings.
HISTORY OF THIS WEAVING
Being the only set listed in the official Gobelins records as having been woven with these borders by Audran, this tapestry almost certainly forms part of the eighth weaving of the Mois de Lucas and was woven in the first Royal high warp loom workshop. It was part of a set woven between 1733 and 1743 while this panel was on the looms from 1735 until October 1738. The border decoration is a variant of that created by Belin de Fontenay and Pierre Josse Perrot in 1730 and was first used in 1737 for a series woven for the Stanislas, King of Poland.
Two tapestries from the series, April and October, were lent to Madame de Pompadour for four years but then in 1758 Louis XV requested the entire set from the Marquis de Marigny for the Garde Meuble. It was inventoried in the Royal collection as No. 243 and was recorded as:
Une tenture de tapisserie de haute lisse, laine et soie, dessein de Lucas, corrigè par Boullenger, manufacture des Gobelins, représentant des chasses, moissons, vendages et autres sujets distrubués selon les mois de l'année; la bordure en mosaïques, à festoons de fleurs et fruits; par le haut les armes du Roy, et par le bas le signe du mois; la tenure en douze pièces, contenant 35 aunes de cours sur 3 a. de haut.
In 1789 the complete set was still recorded in the Royal collection, two in the Garde Mueble and ten with Le Moine de Crécy, a commissaire général de la Maison du Roi, this panel with Crécy then recorded as 2 a. 11/12 wide. The following records in 1792 list but the two tapestries from the Garde Meuble as remaining in the collection. By 1900 three panels are in the French State Collections and the only other recorded panel by Audran with these borders is July which is listed in the Spanish Royal Collection. That tapestry is said to have been at château d'Épinay which belonged to Don François d'Assise.
Related tapestries from this series are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the Hermitage Museum, Russia (illustrated in N. Birioukova, Les Tapisseries Franaises de la Fin du XVe au XXe Sicle dans les Collections de l'Ermitage, Leningrad, 1974, Leningrad, cat.27) and were sold by the 6th Earl of Rosebery from Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire, Sotheby's House sale, 18-20 May 1977, lots 802-813. Two tapestries from the 11th weaving between 1767 and 1772 were sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 20 April 2007, lots 119 and 120.