The construction of the city of Karlsruhe was only begun in 1715. Markgraf Carl Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach (1679 - 1738), following the precedent set by Louis XIV at Versailles, designed the plan of the city radiating outwards from his Schloss. The Schloss, which was at the center of the city, was built by Johann Heinrich Schwartz and Friedrich von Batzenberg. Carl Wilhelm's grandson, Carl Friedrich and his wife Prinzessin Karoline Luise von Hessen-Darmstadt (1723 - 1783) appointed the architect Friedrich von Kesslau, a pupil of La Guipihre, in 1752 to reconstruct the castle. The interiors were also redecorated in the neoclassical style. In the 19th century, some of the rooms were again redecorated in the neo-rococo style. Schloss Karlsruhe served as the residence of the Margraves of Baden-Durlach and the Grand Dukes of Baden until 1918. Since the abdication of Friedrich II, the castle has served as the Badische Landesmuseum and, after its destruction during World War II, was rebuilt.
SERIES AND SUBJECT
This tapestry belongs to a series of ten panels depicting the Judaic wars (66 - 70 AD) during the reigns of Vespasian (69 - 70 AD) and his son Titus (79 - 81 AD). The series appears to be based on the accounts of Flavius Joseph (37 - 100 AD), a Jewish historian who fought in the wars against Rome and became a prisoner.
Although no drawings or engravings for the two series survive, it is believed that Charles Peorson (d. 1667) was their author on the basis of comparisons to other tapestry designs by him (The Story of Moses). It is believed that he painted the modelli for the tapestries in the early 1660s as there is mention of a Titus and Vespasian series in Brussels in 1663. It appears to have been commissioned by a group of weavers through Jean Valdor, an engraver and art dealer.
WEAVERS AND COMPARABLE EXAMPLES
Four tapestry workshops are recorded having woven the series: that of William Leefdael (active until 1685), Geraert van der Streken (d. 1677), either Jean (d. 1676) or Jerome (d. 1719) Le Clerc and lastly Gerard Peemans (active until 1707). It is interesting to note that there are also four differing borders for the series, although it does not appear to be possible to assign specific borders singularly to one weaver. For instance, four tapestries with identical border as the present lot in the Toms Collection, Lausanne, are signed by Peemans, while another in a private collection and depicting The Triumphal Procession is signed by Leefdael (G. Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestry, Tielt, 1999, pp. 247 and 249). A further tapestry from this series with identical borders, signed by Peemans, and depicting The Siege of Jerusalem was sold from the collection of Isabel van Wie Willys, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 26 27 October 1945, lot 335, while another with identical borders but not signed and depicting The Triumph of Titus and Vespasian was offered anonymously, Sotheby's, New York, 5 December 1980, lot 4.