HISTORY AND RELATED EXAMPLES
This magnificent example of a late 16th early 17th century tapestry continues the enduring fascination with episodes surrounding the story of Troy by tapestry designers. The first mention of a tapestry depicting The Story of Hector is as early as 1374 when Nicolas Bataille supplied a series to Louis I, Duc d'Anjou (d. 1384), while the inventory of Richard II (d. 1400) also lists five tapestries of 'Greeks and Trojans'. The first traceable examples appear in the late 15th century in a series that was widely popular and supplied by the marchand-tapissier Pasquier Grenier of Tournai to such clients as Henry VII of England (d. 1509), Ferdinand I of Naples (d. 1494) and Charles VIII of France (d. 1498) (examples today in Boston, London, Madrid and New York).
An immediate pre-cursor and inspiration for the series of the offered lot was woven by Franz Geubels and other highly skilled weavers in the 1570s and 80s (examples in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, Burgos Cathedral, Spain, Abegg Stiftung, Switzerland, Soprintendeza alle gallerie del Piemonte, Turin, and various private collections). Very slightly later Cornelis and Hendrik Mattens copied the same designs with minor variations, one example of which is in the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels (M. Crick-Kuntziger, Catalogus van de Wandtapijten, Brussels, n.d., cat. 45, pl. 53).
Maarten II Reymbouts appears to have owned the designs for the series to which the offered lot belongs, as other editions by him but with differing borders are known. A large set, encompassing 7 panels and including this particular subject is at Skokloster in Sweden (J. Bvttiger, Tapisseries à Figures, Stockholm, 1928, cats. 13 - 19, pp. 18 - 26). Four further panels that probably followed the same design were in the famed Ffoulke Collection that was acquired from the Barberini Collection (C. Ffoulke, The Ffoulke Collection of Tapestries, New York, 1913, p. 57).
SOURCE OF THE DESIGN
Although the designer of this tapestry series is unidentified, his inspiration appears to have been the Historiae destructionis Troiae by Guide de Columna, which was completed in 1287. Written in Latin prose, it was widely translated at the end of the 15th and early 16th century and accepted as historical fact. As indicated with the examples of previous series, the subject of the Trojan wars was extremely popular in tapestry weaving of the period. This fascination may partially be due to the contemporary fashion for battle scenes, but certainly also the desired affiliation between the ruling dynasty of the Lowlands with the Trojans and therefore Rome.
MAARTEN II REYMBOUTS (circa 1557 - 1618) AND THE SERIES
H. Göbel records in his Tapestries of the Lowlands (Leipzig, 1924, p. 65) the weaving of a Story of Troy by Reymbouts in 1576 and again in 1615. The first is recorded when Reymbouts lost a series of this subject to the Spanish Troops when they looted the Tapissierspand in Antwerp, while the second set mentioned, consisting of eight panels, was supplied to the Archduke Albert and Isabelle for the sum of 2,908 livres. Neither set can today be traced with certainty, which leaves open to speculation the early provenance of this lot. (M. Stettler, 'Das Trojanische Pferd', Artes Minores, Dank an Werner Abegg, Bern, 1973, pp. 229 - 262)