The Life of Decius Mus tapestry series depicts Publius Decius Mus and Titus Manlius Torquatus leading the Roman armies against the Latins at Capua (340 - 338 BC). Both consuls had a dream in which a giant predicted that the leader of the one people and the army of the other would be sacrificed to the underworld. Consequently, one of the two leaders of the Roman army had to be prepared to lay down his life should the army of the adversary suffer defeat. This story was portrayed as an example of patriotism.
HISTORY OF THE SERIES
Franco Cattaneo first commissioned the Decius Mus series for a group of Genoese noblemen on 9 November 1616 from the ateliers of Jan Raes the elder (d. 1631) and Frans Sweerts. The contract stated that Rubens was to make the patterns, but also to judge the quality of the weaving which would have effected the price of the tapestries (D. Heinz, Europäische Tapisseriekunst des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1995, pp. 40 - 42 and G. Delmarcel et al., Rubenstextiel, exhibition catalogue, Antwerp, 1997, pp. 39 - 47). This set usually consisted of eight panels, although sets of up to fourteen tapestries are recorded. Six oil-paintings that served as basis for the cartoons (there appear to have existed more at one point) were bought in 1696, and still remain in the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein in Vaduz (Liechtenstein, The Princely Collections, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, nos. 210 - 217).
A tapestry from this series depicting Decius Mus and Maunlius Torquatus receiving a golden image of Pallas Athene before going into battle against the Latins with nearly identical borders and also signed by Jacob II Geubels was offered Christie's, London, 8 November 2007, lot 59. A panel of the same subject by Jan Raes was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 10 December 1987, lot 4, while another from the Patrimonio Nacional signed by both Jan Raes II and Jacob Geubels II is illustrated in T. Campbell, et al., Tapestry in the Baroque, Threads of Splendour, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2007, cat. 11, pp. 95-105.
JACOB II GEUBELS
Jacob Geubels was the son of the weaver couple Jacob Geubels I (d. 1605) and Catherine van den Eynde (d. between 1620 - 1629), who took over Jacob I's workshop upon his death. The manufactory was one of the largest in Brussels at the time and it is believed that Jacob II took it over in circa 1621, when he is first documented. It appears that he died by 1629 as his name is no longer mentioned in the list of most important weavers.
(T. Campbell, et al., Tapestry in the Baroque, Threads of Splendour, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2007, cat. 11, pp. 95-105)