Gazette Drouot logo print

A Masterpiece of 16th-Century European Tapestry Production

Published on , by Sophie Reyssat
Auction on 09 December 2022 - 16:00 (CET) - Hôtel des ventes, 164 bis, avenue Charles-de-Gaulle - 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine

This marvel of refinement was woven in the workshops of Tournai in the early 16th century for Maximilian I. The appearance of this historic monument on the market will be a red-letter day.

Flanders, Tournai workshops, early 16th century, Imperial hunt and hawking party... A Masterpiece of 16th-Century European Tapestry Production

Flanders, Tournai workshops, early 16th century, Imperial hunt and hawking party of Maximilian I in the Sonian Forest, wool and silk tapestry, 3.05 x 10.25 meters/10 x 33.6 ft.
Estimate: €800,0000/1,000,000

Since the 13th century, the ceremonial apartments of the most powerful families were warmed by hangings covering the walls and furniture, giving their owners the opportunity to be represented among their relatives with a magnificence designed to dazzle visitors. Maximilian I (1508-1519), emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, ordered not one but three sets from the Tournai workshops, whose reputation had been steadily growing since the start of the 14th century. The archives describe "A triumph of Julius Caesar in eight pieces, containing 400 aunes (square); a history of people and wild animals of 300 aunes (square), and a Hunting and Hawking room of 299 aunes (square), for the sum of 1,410 Tournois pounds, in the year 1510." The tapestry presented today, over ten meters (32 ft) long, constitutes only a tenth of this last set, which is almost entirely lost. We can just imagine the effect produced on anyone who entered the gallery it adorned. They would have been instantly wafted to bosky surroundings in the company of splendid people with individualized, identifiable faces. The Château de Bouchout, recognizable on the horizon, indicates that this lordly hunt is taking place in the Sonian Forest near Brussels.

Combining elements that are still medieval—like the scattered plants and flowering branches without depth typical of the "millefleurs" style—and the search for perspective characteristic of the Renaissance, notably created by the hills and tree stumps dotting the landscape, this tapestry illustrates a turning point in art at the dawn of the 16th century. The meticulously-depicted clothes confirm its date: the ample, superimposed garments are suitable for braving the stiff temperatures of the Little Ice Age then prevailing while also illustrating opulence, proportional to the generous length of one brightly-colored fabric in bold red and gold, set off by embroidery and furs and completed by oversized sleeves. This ostentatiously rich attire undoubtedly led the authors of a 1643 document and a 1698 inventory to erroneously describe this hanging (which ended up in the Château d'Effiat in the Puy-de-Dôme) as a "high-warp tapestry of the Gobelins showing King Francis hunting"—which would have caused a sensation at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. Restored to Maximilian but remaining in France, this historic monument is a European masterpiece.

Friday 09 December 2022 - 16:00 (CET) - Live
Hôtel des ventes, 164 bis, avenue Charles-de-Gaulle - 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
Aguttes
Gazette Drouot
Welcome La Drouot Gazette offers you 2 Articles.
You still have 1 article(s) left to read.
I subscribe