Although there are few records of tapestries illustrating the Life of Orpheus, there is mention of a set that was bought by Margaret of Parma (d. 1586), daughter of Charles V. She was the Governess of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567 and purchased a large amount of tapestries in Antwerp for the marriage of her son, Alexander Farnese, to Mary of Portugal in 1565. The Orpheus tapestries were bought from Enrico Pipelinghe, dealer in silk and textiles and grandfather of Peter Paul Rubens. (G. Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestry, Tielt, 1999, p. 103).
The borders of this tapestry relate to those framing a scattered set depicting the story of Vertumnus and Pomona, of which one from the collection of Lord Astor of Hever, sold Christie's, London, 30 May 1963, lot 157, and another is in the museum of Magdeburg. This latter panel bears the weaver's signatures of Jacob I Geubels (d. 1605) and his wife Catharina van den Eynde (d. 1620) and Jan II Raes (d. 1643). A related Orpheus tapestry was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 28 March 2007, lot 312.
We would like to thank Guy Delmarcel for his help in cataloguing this lot.