ORIGINS OF THE DESIGN
Conceived as a set of twelve tapestries representing the months, the tapestries of this series depict various Royal châteaux with Louis XIV and his court pursuing outdoor activities, viewed across a balustrade and through columns. Charles LeBrun (d. 1690) designed the series starting in 1668 while a number of artists, including Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (d. 1699), François van der Meulen (d. 1690) and Beaudrin Yvart (d.1680) created the cartoons for the weaving, working in their specialty subjects. The series was initially woven for Louis XIV starting in 1673 and a total of seven complete sets were commissioned with gold-thread, but there are a number of unrecorded weavings without metal-thread, probably woven during the period when the Gobelins workshops were closed between 1694 and 1699. A number of weavings were made as diplomatic gifts to dignitaries including Danish ministers, the English court, and the Electrice of Brandenburg.
This tapestry is woven on the low looms as the eagle to the foreground is not found on the high loom designs and forms part of the entre-fenêtres made for Louis XIV. There were a total of three sets with a total of 24 panels of entre-fenêtres made by Gobelins on the low looms. They were woven with gold-thread just around 1680, two of which by Jean De la Croix (d. 1712) and one by Jean-Baptiste Mozin (d. 1693). Eighteen of them were initially inventories as no. 91 in the Royal collection but subsequently re-allocated to no. 103. Of the three St. Germain entre-fenêtres woven, the Moizin panel was given to King Charles II of England on 11 December 1682 through the marquis de Croissy, while one panel was recorded at the château de Pau and another at the Garde-Meuble in 1900.
The sale of this tapestry at Sotheby's denotes as provenance the comte Greffulhe (d. 1932), the son of Charles Geffulhe and Félice de la Rochefoucauld d'Estissac. He married Elisabeth de Riquet de Caraman in 1878. His family fortune in finance and properties was mainly gathered after the Revolution, but was immense. His family lived in the imposing 8 rue d'Astorg in Paris but also at their country seat the château de Bois Boudran near Melun.
Tancred Borenius (d. 1948) was a recognized art historian who was born in Finland. He moved to London in 1909 where he initially became the first professor of history of art at the University College, London. Between 1924 and 1945 he was an advisor at Sotheby's, London and was one of the founders of the Apollo Magazine.
(M. Fenaille, Etat Général des Tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1903, pp. 128-165, C. Bremer-David, French Tapestries & Textiles in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1997, cat. 3, pp. 20 - 27).