This tapestry of unidentified subject forms part of a group of tapestry subjects that experienced an increased popularity after the victories of the Austrian, German and Polish armies over the Ottoman ruler Kara Mustapha, who besieged Vienna from 14 July to 12 September 1683 and threatened Christianity in Europe. The victory was seen as a turning point in the history of Europe and was the inspiration for numerous literary and pictoral works of the subject. It also formed the basis for a renewed interest in the Amadis and Oriane novel by Garcia Rodrìguez de Montalvo of 1492 - 1508. The theme was further popularised by Philippe Quinault (d. 1688) and Jean-Baptiste Lully (d. 1687) who composed an opera of the same title, which was first shown in Paris on 18 January 1684. Quinault followed that success with further operas of Armide (1685) and Roland (1686), all of which had a tremendous influence on tapestry designs of the period. The subject of this tapestry which is conceived in the spirit of this movement, and the associated panels that would have formed the series remain, however, elusive. It is interesting to note that a tapestry of identical subject, unfortunately not associated with any other panels, forms part of the collection of the Bayerische Vereinsbank, Munich and is discussed by G. Delmarcel in Kunst in der Vereinsbank, B. Köpplin ed., Munich , 1997, pp. 40-41.
There are several contemporary Antwerp series that employed identical borders. A tapestry depicting Perseus turning Phineus and his Followers to Stone from The Story of Perseus from the Wernher Collection, which can be attributed to Pieter Ykens (d. 1695) and which can probably be identified as having been commissioned by the Antwerp marchand Forchoud, has identical borders to the offered lot with the exception of the monogram to the top cartouche. In connection to this particular weaver, it is interesting to note that the same borders also appear on a tapestry from the series Ulysses and Circe (Sotheby's London, 10 December 1993, lot 15), which is known to have been among the oeuvre of Ykens. A further tapestry with these borders, probably depicting Theseus and the Bull of Marathon from the Earl of Lownsdale, Lowther Castle, was sold Maple & Co, 20 - 22 May 1947, lot 4713, then Sotheby's London, 30 March 1962, lot 101, and again Christie's London, 10 March 1988, lot 197. Alas, none of these tapestries bore the weaver's mark, it is, however, very possible that these tapestries all formed part of specific commissions by Forchoud, who may very well have owned the rights to these borders.
We would like to thank Dr. Guy Delmarcel for his kind assistance in the identification of the subject of this tapestry.