HISTORY OF THE SERIES
This popular series, depicting the pastoral life and the joys of youth combined with the ages of man, was originally designed in the first quarter of the 16th century. The first recorded mention is in an inventory of Florimond Robertet, a dignitary under Charles VIII and François I, in 1534. They continued, however, to be woven throughout the 17th century in various workshops in Flanders and France. Sebastien Leclerc re-published the designs as woodcuts in circa 1596 and several sets of eight were woven during the late 16th and early 17th century more or less related to these, in Bruges, Brussels, Paris and Felletin.
This story illustrates rural life through the ages of man, focusing on the carefree life in the countryside and the awakening of sexuality, which leads to marriage, then old age and death. Shepherds had the reputation of living in isolation and of seeking to console themselves with literature and light songs. The aristocracy, for whom these tapestries were intended, could thus associate unbridled sexuality with the poor and with a life close to nature, as opposed to their own attitude, characterized by self-control and ruled by etiquette.