This tapestry panel forms part of The Story of Scipio, which depicts scenes from the life of the famous Roman general. Publius Scipio (235 - 183 BC) was considered the 'perfect' soldier, who combined both the courageous and the generous aspects of warfare. It was he who established the Roman dominance on the Iberian peninsula and the north of Africa in his battles against the Carthaginians, defeating Hannibal at Zama (202 BC) thus ending the Second Punic War.
This entre-fentre panel is part of a larger design depicting Le Portique, which forms part of The Triumphs of Scipio and The Acts of Scipio, a series consisting of 22 panels (9 Triumphs and 13 Acts) and measuring 143 meters in length. It was first woven for Franois I of France who commissioned it from one of the most influential marchands in Brussels, Marc Crtif in 1532. Unfortunately this first set was burnt in 1797 to extract the gold and silver threads to pay the staff of the Garde-Meubles. The Triumphs were entirely designed by Giulio Romano (1492 - 1546), while the Acts appear to be a cooperation that included Romano, Giovanni Francesco Penni (1488 - 1528) and Francesco Primaticcio (1504 - 1570). Fifteen of the original cartoons remain in the Cabinet des Dessins in the Muse du Louvre (for an illustration of this design see Le Colonel d'Astier, La Belle Tapisserye du Roy (1532 - 1797) et les Tentures de Scipion l'Africain, Paris, 1907, plate XIX), the Cabinet des Estampes in the Bibliothque Nationale in Paris, the Albertina in Vienna, the Ashmolean in Oxford, the Muse Cond in Chantilly and in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. Several weavings of this set are known from both the 16th and 17th Centuries, including those for Mary of Hungary, completed in 1544 (now in the Spanish Royal Collection), the Marchal Saint-Andr (now in the Mobilier Nationale of the Muse du Louvre), Gustaf II Adolph of Sweden, Albert and Isabelle of Austria (also in the Spanish Royal Collection) and Marie de Medici. The Acts of Scipion were further copied by the Royal Gobelins Tapestry Manufacture from the set of tapestries woven in the 1550s for Saint-Andr.
The signature to the lower right almost certainly refers to Urban Leyniers (d. 1747), who had received his privileges in 1704. The Leyniers dynasty of weavers can be traced back to the 15th Century and became one of the most highly regarded workshops in Brussels in the mid-17th Century. The family also owned a dyeing factory which also passed from generation to generation, establishing a strong business advantage for the dynasty. Although no tapestry panels of this series are recorded by Urban, it is known that his forebearer Everaerd (d. 1670) participated on the weaving of a set of this series that is now in Vienna and another now in the chteau de Tarascon ('Lisses et Delices, Chefs-d'Oeuvres de la Tapisserie', Exhibition Catalogue, 1996, pp. 42 - 57).
Three 16th Century series, one unsigned, one by Martin Reymbouts - including a panel of this subject - and another by Henry Mattens, are in the Spanish Royal Collection (P. Junquera de Vega, C. Herrero Carretero, Catalogo de Tapices del Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1986, vol. I, pp. 176 - 205, cat. 26 - 28), while another by Gerard van der Streecken, Everaert Leyniers, Hendrik Reydams and Willem van Leefdael are in Vienna (H. Baldass, Die Wiener Gobelinssammlung, Vienna, 1920, cats. 175 - 179). A panel depicting The Crowned Soldiers Passing Monte Cavallo by Martin Reymbouts was sold anonymously in these Rooms, 30 October 1997, lot 240.