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Flemish antique tapestry “Fantastic Animals”

Flemish antique tapestry “Fantastic Animals”

‘’Fantastic Animals”

Oudenaarde, Belgium

Circa 1620

Dimensions: 268 x 209 cm


This tapestry is a lavish, action-packed, and vibrant tapestry that was made in Flanders during the beginning of 17th Century. The brightly-colored battling animals in the foreground and clusters of human hunters, soldiers and hunting hounds in the mid-ground relate it to the Flemish tapestry-making center of Oudenaarde.

The Foreground: The Animals

The foreground of the tapestry is filled with exotic animals, both real and imaginary. At the center, an adult deer is trying to protect its fawn, as there are two large predators. A monkey and a hedgehog are stunned or trying to run away from the scenario. The educated classes of Renaissance society would have known the more exotic species through illustrations and the real “hunting parks” of the highest nobility.

The Background: The Hunters

The background is composed of non-narrative scenes that include forests and lush greenery filled with animals and hunting scenes. In this tapestry, hunters and soldiers with their dogs running through the forest landscape. Some are hunting an exotic animal in the mid-ground, a castle and farmstead are seen in the distance.

During the Renaissance, hunting, particularly for boar, stag, and other “noble” game — was a privilege reserved exclusively for the wealthiest, royal classes. Fantastic Animals, with its battling animals in the foreground and hunters in the background, also draws comparisons between the activities of wild animals and humans.