Meleager's father had offended Diana, who in revenge sent a boar to ravage the countryside. Meleager set out with a group of men to hunt it down, but the first to wound it was Atalanta, the virgin huntress Meleager loved. When the Caledonian boar finally died, Meleager gave Atalanta its pelt and head. This caused a quarrel among his companions in which he killed his two uncles. The Fates decreed at his birth that Meleager would live as long as a log they had placed in a fire survived. His mother had taken it out to preserve it, but upon hearing that Meleager had killed two of her brothers, she threw it back again, sending Meleager slowly to his death.
This tapestry is inspired by a design of 1658 by Charles Le Brun (d. 1690) and the landscape painter Franois Bellin (d. 1661) for the Histoire de Mlagre, consisting of eight panels. It was one of the first designs for tapestries by Le Brun, who supplied them for Fouquet's country residence Vaux-Le-Vicomte before 1658. In correspondences of the period Jean Valdor (d. 1670), a friend of Le Brun's and who worked on the construction of Vaux-Le-Vicomte for Fouquet, appears to be the person who commissioned the set. The first weavings were undertaken in Maincy, the workshop founded by Fouquet, in 1658, while further weavings were undertaken at the Gobelins ateliers after its foundation in 1662. Copies of this series were made in various Brussels workshops, including those of Willem van Leefdael, Jan Leyniers and Gerard Peemans, and in Sweden. (Chefs-d'oeuvre de la tapisserie, exhibition catalogue, 1996, pp. 266 - 283)
This tapestry is a variant of the Le Brun design but a tapestry of identical subject, signed by Cornelis de Wael (d. 1723) who worked in Antwerp, was sold anonymously in these Rooms, 25 October 1957, lot 51. Interestingly that tapestry had the same borders that were woven at the Gobelins workshop.
This tapestry further draws inspiration from a tapestry series of the same subject designed by Peter Paul Rubens (d. 1640) between 1639 and 1640 for the royal residence of Philip IV of Spain. The only weaving of the series of six tapestries, of which only the hunt of the Caledonian boar remains, was completed by Daniel II Eggermans in 1665. (J. Mller Hofstede et al., Rubenstextil, exhibition catalogue, Antwerp, 1997, pp. 126-129).