HISTORY OF MILLEFLEURS
The millefleurs design in tapestries evolved in circa 1450-1460, one of the first fully developed examples to survive being the Armorial Tapestry of Philip the Good of Burgundy woven in Brussels in circa 1466. This genre of tapestry, however, remained popular until the mid-16th Century. The wide variations in quality, the relative short period in which they were produced and the number of pieces known, indicate that numerous workshops made this type of tapestries. The vast majority of these ateliers are believed to have been in the Southern Netherlands.
The denseness and colouring of the flowers in this tapestry has most recently led to an attribution to Bruges of this type of millefleurs. A pair of tapestries with a more elaborate central cartouche depicting The Story of Abraham, but on a similar ground, bear the town mark of Bruges on the outer slip (G. Delmarcel and E. Duverger, Bruges et la Tapisserie, exhibition catalogue, Bruges, 1987, pp. 188 - 189, figs. 3/8 and 3/9). A further tapestry, much more closely related to the offered lot and with an identical central medallion with identical imaginary coat-of-arms, set on a very similar millefleurs ground with numerous animals, that was offered at Galerie Koller in Zurich in 1971 was consequently tentatively attributed to Bruges by the authors (Delmarcel and Duverger, op. cit., p. 38, fig. 18).
This tapestry belongs to a small group of tapestries with essentially identical medallion on a millefleurs ground with animals that occasionally retain their borders and thus can be linked to Bruges works. One example, formerly in the collection of Henry W. Poor, New York and then in the Samuel Untermeyer collection, sold Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 11/12 May 1940, lot 194. That medallion is flanked by a stag and a dog while a fox with bird in its mouth sits beneath. Another example with dogs flanking the medallion was sold anonymously, Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, 25 March 1977, lot 179, while another was sold Christie's, New York, 2 February 1978, lot 169. Furthermore, H. Göbel records in his Tapestries of the Lowlands, New York, 1924, fig. 251, a slightly wider example at the Cathedral in Angers. Another, with similar borders to the examples in Zurich and that sold in 1940, is in the Art Museum in St. Louis (F. Joubert, La tapisserie mediévale au Musée de Cluny, Paris, 1987, p. 189, fig. 190).