The Story of Diana was one of the most successful tapestry series designed by the Parisian workshop in the faubourg Saint-Marcel in the early 17th century. Over twenty different sets have been identified, including three made for the French crown and one each for the Spanish ambassador, cardinal Barberini and cardinal Richelieu.
The design for The Death of Orion is attributed to Toussaint Dubreuil (1561-1602). Dubreuil was appointed peintre ordinaire of Henri III and was charged with the decoration of the Pavillon des Posies at the château de Fontainbleau and the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre. It is probable that he drew the designs for the eight tapestries between 1597 and 1600, but it is not entirely clear when the first set was woven. It is only sure that this first set was completed before 1606 as cardinal Maffeo Barberini visited Fontainebleau at that date to choose a series of tapestries for cardinal Montalto and he found this series particularly appealing and appropriate. One set of these tapestries, with the original cartoons, is mentioned in 1627 in the inventory drawn up on the death of François de la Planche. Two further panels were later added to extend the series of ten tapestries. The first border design by Dubreuil was probably only used on two sets, while the design of this border which can be attributed to Lauren Guyot (circa 1575-1644), was much more popular. The weaving of The Story of Diana tapestries to these cartoons only ceased in the mid-1630s when Simon Vouet introduced a new style of imagery to the weaver's ateliers of Paris.
WEAVER AND DATE:
The ateliers in the faubourg Saint-Marcel were established when Marc and Jérôme de Comans and François de la Planche formed an association in 1601 but François de la Planche and Marc Comans only received the Royal decree in the 1607. Upon the death of de la Planche in 1627 and the retirement of Marc Comans in 1628, their sons took over the workshop. The association only lasted until 1633 when Raphaël de la Planche moved his own atelier in the faubourg Saint-Germain.
The signature 'LVD' and the small flower have yet to be firmly linked to a weaver. It has recently been suggested that 'LVD' may be the monogram for Lucas Wandandalle (Flemish presumably van den Daele), who in 1627 established a 'new' large workshop with fifteen looms (C. Adelson European Tapestry in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1994, pp. 181-182), which wove both with and without metallic yarns. The same author suggests that the weaver using the flower, who was the head of a metallic yarn workshop, woudl not have been active long after 1620, because he did not feature among weavings of sets in 1623. The juxtaposition of the two signatures in this tapestry does, however, almost certainly place him later too. The combinaton of the two signatures indicate that the tapestry probably was woven between 1620 and 1630.
A set of eight tapestries by Philippe de Maecht, the earliest surviving suite, is in the Spanish Royal Collection (P. Junquera de Vega and C. Diaz Gallegos, Catalogo de Tapices del Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1986, vol. II, pp. 6-14, this subject being p. 10), while another set of six tapestries is at the Palace of Holyroodhouse (M. Swain, Tapestries and Textiles at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, 1988, pp. 50-55, this subject being panel e). A set of five tapestries from this series, formerly the property of Archbold van Beuren, Gray Craig, Newport, was sold Christie's house sale, 23-24 July 1985, lot 227, and again at Christie's New York, 11 January 1994, lots 220-224, this subject being 224. A further set of six tapestries with the arms of the Pallavicini Family, from the property of The Pierpont Morgan Libreary, was sold at Christie's London, 6 July 1961, lot 53.
A tapestry with the same coat-of-arms and depicting Diana pleading with Jupiter formerly sold from Rufford Abbey, November 1938, and then in the collection of Major John Fermor-Hesketh was sold at Christie's London, 8 June 1961, lot 155.
Apollo believed his sister, was in love with Orion, a hunter of gigantic stature. While Diana was hunting on the island of Delos, Apollo saw him swimming and challenged her to hit the dark object in the water with her arrow. He died and his image turned into a constellation.
The coat-of-arms of this impressive tapestry is that of Joseph-Anne de Valbelle, marquis de Tourves. The de Valbelle family was one of the most distinguished in Provence, and in 1701 the marquis de Tourves was made President of Provence. This tapestry may have been commissioned for the imposing hôtel he had built in the centre of Aix-en- Provence in 1655, which is now the gendarmerie nationale.