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Antique tapestry of Royal Manufacture Gobelins – “Les chasses de Maximilien”

Antique tapestry of Royal Manufacture Gobelins – “Les chasses de Maximilien”

Maximilian Hunts (1704-1706)

Tapestry after Bernard Van Orley, Gobelins.

This is one of the tapestries of the Hunts of Maximilian, after Bernard Van Orley by Jean de la Croix (priest), which symbolizes the month of November and represents a hunting banquet.

The tapestry represents a hunting banquet scene, probably at the heart of the Soignes forest. In the foreground, we can see a table of fortune on which a cloth and platters are placed and richly dressed noble lords are preparing to eat.

Several hunters, as well as their emblems, are referring to Charles V. Around them are the busy servants who are bringing the dishes. We distinguish them from other figures in the scene by the white tea towels they are carrying on their arms or around their neck.

In the middle ground, on the right side, two men are making a fire and the other is gathering firewood. A second table is put up around which the armed figures are also going eat.

The border of the tapestry is richly decorated with motifs of the torus of laurels and the windings of flowers and fruits animated by birds attributed probably to Jean or Guillaume Tons. The upper part is decorated with a medallion symbolizing the sign of Sagittarius, while the lower part a frieze of triton in monochrome.

We can find the representation of sun on a vase placed underneath the central table which symbolizes the Sun King, Louis XIV.

Bernard Van Orley is an artist of religious subjects or portraits, a designer of tapestry cartoons and stained glass. He became court painter of Margaret of Austria in 1518. In 1520, he encountered A.Dürer, which had certainly a determining influence on the evolution of his painting.

Gifted with a real talent for storytelling and designing, Bernard Van Orley is deemed as an innovator, conciliates harmoniously the Flemish tradition and new influences of the Renaissance, mainly those of Dürer and Raphael. He makes the best of his talent in the art of tapestry. People attribute to Van Orley – generally on the stylistic consideration – a great number of pieces woven in the Brussels workshops. The Hunts of Maximilian (Paris, Louvre), twelve pieces dating from 1528 to 1523, are considered as one of the masterpieces of tapestry.

The tapestry is part of the royal commission executed between 1704 and 1706 in the Gobelins Manufactory for Louis XIV. This series of twelve allegorical tapestries representing hunting scenes was designed originally by Bernard Van Orley between 1528 and 1533. The scenes take place in the forest of Soignes, a hunting-ground of the Emperors near Brussels. Nothing evokes better an epoch where hunting is one of the favorite hobbies than the tough and elegant hunting life.

This first series realized for Charles V or Mary of Hungary was mentioned in 1589 in the inventory of Henry of Lorraine, Duke of Guise. It was kept in the hôtel de Guise until 1654. Another version was commissioned in 1704 and accomplished in 1708 with twelve tapestries woven in the workshops of Etienne le Blond and Jean de la Croix.

It is signed at the lower right L.CROIX.P

It is an extremely rare piece owing to its prestigious provenance (Louis XIV).

Period: 1704-1706

Dimensions: 420 x 337 cm

Provenance: Private collection

Composition: Wool and silk

Condition: Exceptional quality

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