This scene is inspired by the celebrated novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), first published in 1604. In the book Alonso Quixano, inspired by the heroes of his books on chivalry, becomes a knight-errant, wearing his great-grandfather's suit of armour and renaming himself Don Quixote de la Mancha. He is knighted by an innkeeper whose inn he mistakes for a great castle, and sets out on his adventures with Sancho Panzo, a peasant he convinced to be his squire by promising him to become a governor of an island that he will conquer.
The book was first translated into French by Filleau de Saint-Martin in 1678. It was republished twenty times in the course of the 18th Century and used as the basis for a number of tapestry series woven in Europe. The first fifteen cartoons based on the book were painted by Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694-1752) between 1714 and 1718 for the Royal Gobelins Tapestry Manufacture, then under the directorship of Robert de Cotte and duc the d'Antin. The first tenture, woven for the 1st duc d'Antin between 1717 and 1718 by Jean Jans fils, was sold anonymously in these Rooms, 10 June 1993, lot 110. Jan van Orley (d. 1660) and Augustin Coppens further altered the scenes for the weaving of the Don Quixote series in Brussels by Urban Leyniers. Pieter van der Hecke is also known to have woven the series, although with scenes more closely related to the Gobelins version than Leyniers.
A tapestry of identical design and preserving its borders, from the property of Mrs. Hugh Fenwick [+], Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland, was sold in these Rooms, 11 December 1930, lot 126.