A LOUIS XV GOBELINS ALLEGORICAL HUNTING TAPESTRY
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A LOUIS XV GOBELINS ALLEGORICAL HUNTING TAPESTRY

AFTER BERNARD VAN ORLEY, MID-18TH CENTURY

Details
A LOUIS XV GOBELINS ALLEGORICAL HUNTING TAPESTRY
AFTER BERNARD VAN ORLEY, MID-18TH CENTURY
Woven in silks and wools, depicting January from the Maximilian Hunts series with several men surrounding a bonfire with a roasting boar, to each side with men holding spears and the background with a hunting party with dogs and a castle, within a simulated frame border with paterae to the angles issuing floral trails, the center to the top with a fleur-de-lys within a cartouche and the sides with cartouches with Aquarius, the central section of cartouche to top replaced, minor areas of reweaving
14 ft. 1 in. (430 cm.) high, 19 ft. 2 in. (585 cm.) wide
Provenance
with van Baarn in 1936 (probably Seidlitz & van Baarn).
Mrs. Elenore J. Mortimer, New York, 1937.
Anonymous sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 11 May 1946, lot 174. Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 23 - 24 November 1984, lot 597.
Literature
E.A. Standen, European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, vol. I, p. 309.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

DESIGNERS AND EARLY VERSIONS
Originally the series of twelve hunting and allegorical tapestries to which this magnificent panel belongs was designed by Bernard van Orley (d. 1541) in 1528 - 33. The setting is the Soignes forest, the Imperial hunting grounds near Brussels. Several hunters as well as their emblems refer to Charles V and his brother Ferdinand. Mysteriously no documentation referring to their original commission has come to light, although it is believed that the series was ordered by the Habsburg court. Two sets of designs are preserved, of which one only partial, and are attributed to van Orely, the foremost tapestry designer of his time ('January' at the Louvre). In addition, it is probable that a designer named Jean or Guillaume Tons supplied the views of the forest as well as the designs for the flowers, plants and birds on the borders.

The building in the background of this tapestry has been identified as the château de Tervueren, which was added to the most frequented castles of the Dukes of Brabant by Henri I in the 1220s. The building subsequently underwent numerous additions, the last ones before the cartoons were prepared, being those of Maximilian in 1506 and 1516. It is believed that the building in the tapestry is that of circa 1530, since Maria of Hungary made further changes in 1536 that are not recorded.

The first set was probably made either for Charles V, Ferdinand or Mary of Hungary, but its history is only firmly established as of 1589 when it is mentioned in the inventory of Henri of Lorraine, duc de Guise. The tapestries remained in the hôtel de Guise until Henri II de Guise (d. 1664) had to sell them to cardinal Mazarin in 1654 due to financial difficulties. The actual monetary settlement never took place, so that Colbert arranged for Louis XIV to buy the set from the duc's estate in 1665. They entered his inventories as no. 32.

GOBELINS VERSIONS
The first copy at Gobelins was woven with gold-thread and executed before 1683 for Colbert himself. The only known record for this set is his inventory taken on 14 September 1683, while the exact circumstances of the commission remain unclear. Its subsequent history is not established, but it is probable that it was destroyed during the Revolution to retrieve the precious metals it contained. The first fully recorded set woven at Gobelins was on the looms for Louis XIV between 1685 and 1687 and inventoried as no. 157 in the Mobilier de la Couronne (now in the Louvre). This set, woven on the low looms and thus depicting the subjects in reverse, was then used as model for the future Gobelins weavings in 1689.

A second set for the King, inventoried as no. 172, was commissioned in 1691 and completed in 1693.

The third weaving, commissioned in 1704 and completed in 1708, consisted of twelve entre-fenêtre panels made to complete nos. 157 and 172 in the ateliers of Etienne Le Blond and Jean de La Croix.

Subsequent recorded series are that woven for Louis XV as present to the duc de Charost by La Croix and La Fraye as fourteen panels in 1723 (now lost), one for Marie-Anne de Bourbon, princess de Conti, one for the duc d'Antin in 1722 and for Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Comte de Toulouse. The three later versions all bear the arms of the patron and have differing borders from the offered lot.

It is interesting to note that two other tapestries ('March' and 'August') with identical borders and the interlaced L's of Louis XV to the cartouche at the top were recorded as having been sold by Count Montequion to Arnold Seligman, Rey & Co. The central section of the cartouche in the offered lot is a later replacement and may therefore indicate that this 'January' belonged to the same set as those sold by Count Montequion. E. Standen suggests that this tapestry along with three in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (P. Macquoid, English Furniture Tapestry and Needlework of the XVIth - XIXth Centuries, London, 1928, plates 101, 102 and 104) and other individual panels are from the same set. However, only one panel ('July') in the Lever gallery incorporates a very similar cartouche to the top border and otherwise identical borders. Could it be that the set to which the offered 'January' belongs is that which was woven for Louis XV as a gift to his governor, the duc de Charost in 1723? No documentation remains detailing its borders or its whereabouts. However, the measurements recorded during the manufacture show some differences to those of the 'January', 'March' and 'August' panels that survive. The presence of the interlaced L's in the cartouche to the top border would, on the other hand, perhaps indicate a Royal commission rather than a private one such as those executed for the princesse de Conti, the duc d'Antin and the comte de Toulouse.

(Les Chasses de Maximilien, Paris, 1993, T. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance, New York, 2002, pp. 329 - 338, E. Standen, European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, vol. I, pp. 308 - 309)

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