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The story of the Busant dates back to the early 14th century and recounts the love affair of an English Prince with a French Princess. The Prince meets the Princess during his studies and falls in love despite her already being promised to a Moroccan King. He returns to his home, but vows to come to their wedding in Paris and to abduct her. He returns to Paris as entertainer during the year. When the French King proposes to hire him to perform during the ceremonies, he rejects with the reasoning that he has to free a white dove that he tied up a year ago. During the arrival of the Moroccan King, the Prince and Princess secretly meet in the garden and flee on horseback. Exhausted, they rest in a clearing with the Princess laying her head on his lap.
During her sleep, the Prince removes two valuable rings from her finger and admires them. Suddenly a buzzard dives from the sky and takes them. The Prince follows the bird but gets lost and cannot find his way back to her. He loses his mind and lives in the woods, crawling on all four like an animal.
Left alone, the Princess finds a home with a miller and survives by making beautiful mass clothing. Her noble background is recognized by the brother of the English King, who brings her to castle Engelstein where she remains another year. When hunters discover the Prince in the woods, they also bring him to Engelstein. It is here that he regains his sanity. When they go out hunting and his falcon kills a buzzard, he devours the dead bird. Asked why he did this, he explains and is recognized by the Princess. They fall into each other's arms. Their wedding is celebrated with a festive meal, dance and a tournament.
TAPESTRIES OF THIS SUBJECT
So far six fragments, all in museums, from possibly four or five weavings of the same subject, had been discovered (in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Museum für angewandte Kunst, Cologne; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Burrell Collection, Glasgow; the Musée de Cluny, Paris, and the Germanisches Museum, Nuremberg).
The following two lots, possibly the last in private hands, enlarge
this group further to eight. The Busant represents possibly the most
prolifically woven subject in Strasbourg during this time, with a total of eight panels of the only 53 surviving Strasbourg tapestry panels
from 15th early 16th century being of this subject. There appear to have been two differing heights of the subject woven, this one being
the larger one. A. Rapp Buri and M. Stucky-Schürer suggest in their Zahm ubd Wild (Mainz am Rhein, 1990, p. 359) that they were probably all woven in the same workshop because of the similarities in style and quality. This may be a point that could possibly have to be reconsidered taking into account the very divergent executions of the very fine and detailed weave of some and rather coarse execution of other panels of this subject in combination with the type of colouring that is preserved. The existing designs appear to have been 'modernised' for the later weavings.
TAPESTRY PRODUCTION IN THE UPPER RHINE REGION
These charming tapestries form part of the very small group of (now) 53 known Strasbourg tapestries of the 15th and early 16th century known to survive. The tapestry production of Strasbourg was not far behind Flemish examples in quantity, but it may be because of the generally small size of these tapestries and their use that so few survive today.
Documents reveal that the majority of the commissions came from members of the social elite who were active in finance, politics or in the church. Although it is not known how many weavers were active in Strasbourg, the surviving panels document a constant tapestry production throughout the 15th Century. Numerous workshops throughout the region of the upper Rhine were active in the 15th century and more recent studies have revealed that most of them were full workshops rather than single independent patrician women or nuns working.
Tapestries of this type were known as Heidnischwerk (Non-Christian Work), a name that was employed for both profane and religious subjects, indicating a generic use of the name for all tapestries of Switzerland and Southern Germany. The origins of the name are not certain, but it may refer to the place where tapestry weaving originated or to the expensive damask or brocade backgrounds that were produced by non-Christians, which were frequently depicted in the background of these tapestries.
(A Rapp Buri, M. Stucky-Schürer, Zahm und Wild, Basler und Strassburger Bildteppiche des 15. Jahrhunderts, Mainz, 1990)
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF THE HONOURABLE MURTOGH GUINNESS