This tapestry depicts a scene from Ludovico Ariosto's (1474-1533) epic poem Orlando Furioso. Ariosto commenced his work in 1505 and continued to revise and refine it for the rest of his life. The poem is a continuation of Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato and narrates the hero's passion for Angelica, the war between Christians and pagans near Paris and a secondary love story of Ruggiero and Bradamante.
Frans Spierinckx (Spiering, Spierings, Spierinck) (d. 1630) left Antwerp when it fell to the Spanish troops in 1576. He settled in Delft in the 1580's or 90's and established his atelier in the former Agnes convent where he soon enjoyed great success, particularly with English patrons. Among his commissions was that of Lord Charles Howard in 1592, for a set of ten tapestries depicting the victories of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada of 1588, while Sir Walter Raleigh commissioned a set of twelve 'Diana' tapestries. His workshop grew rapidly to 40 skilled employees who executed numerous prestigious private and government commissions until about 1626.
HISTORY OF THE SERIES AND DESIGNER
The earliest surviving tapestries from the Orlando Furioso series by Spierinckx are dated 1602 (D. Heinz, Europäische Tapisseriekunst des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1995, fig. 41 and p. 105). Further sets were given to Prince Philipp Wilhelm of Orange by the city of Breda in 1609, to English ambassadors by the States-General in 1620 and four tapestries are listed among the purchases of the Swedish crown in 1621.
Karel van Mander (1548 - 1606), who founded the Academy of Haarlem in 1583, is mentioned as the author of the series. The academy was influenced by Italian artists, a fact which becomes evident in the elongated figures with exaggerated postures as well as the elaborate execution of the dress and jewelry in the designs of his tapestries.
A tapestry from the same series was sold anonymously at Christie's New York, 19 May 1988, lot 247, and two further panels with a wider and more elaborate border from the collection of Irene, Countess of Plymouth, were sold at Sotheby's London 13 December 1991, lots 6 and 7.