This section is from the book "Tapestries; Their Origin, History And Renaissance", by George Leland Hunter. Also available from Amazon: Tapestries; Their Origin, History, And Renaissance.
Plate no. 59. The Siege of Troy, a Gothic tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The illustration shows one of three fragments purchased in 1887 by the Museum for £1200 from the heirs of M. Achille Jubenal, who received them as a present in 1837 from the painter M. Richard, who purchased them in 1807 from the owner of Château Bayard (See chapter XII (History And Romance In Tapestries)). The fragments are 13 feet high with united widths of 21 feet. The inscription on the one illustrated reads:
Vergunt Trojam Cum Panthasilea. Bellatrices Mille Federate. Ut Hectorem Vindicent Galea. Hus Priamus Favit Ordinate.
The central figure in the scene is King Priam (roy Prias) greeting Penthesilea (Panthasilea) Queen of the Amazons who kneels before him. Behind Priam are Ĉneas (eneas) and Antenor (anthenor), and in the distance Troy (troye).
Plate no. 61. Roland at Roncevaux, a Gothic tapestry 3.78 metres by 5.4s, bought at the Somzèe Sale, 1901,by the Brussels Museum for 19,000 francs. In the left centre Roland (rolant) is decapitating king Marsile (marsille) with his good sword Durendal (durendal). In the right centre Roland appears thrice, first in the act of striking, then sounding his horn, last splitting a piece of marble, as explained by the inscription above (Deux Pieces Fist De La Piere De Marbre Sans Amencier Lespee Dachier Fin), without injuring the fine steel of the sword. In the lower left corner, half dead he rests against a tree, while his brother Baudouin unable to relieve him with water or wine, takes his horse, horn and sword, and fearing the Saracens rides away.
More than half a century later is the splendid Late Gothic set at the Cluny Museum which pictures the Story of David (See plates nos. 283, 285). Similar to it in style are the two David tapestries at the Brussels Museum; and the remarkable set picturing the Creation (See plate no. 281), Christ. Inspiring Faith, New Testament Scenes, Combat of the Vices and the Virtues, Triumph of Christ, and the Last Judgment, illustrated in Alba Sale 1877. The set was acquired by Baron d'Erlanger and exhibited in Brussels (See Belgium 1880). The Last Judgment is now in the Louvre. All of these have the narrow verdure border characteristic of so many Brussels Gothic and Gothic-Renaissance tapestries of the first part of the XVI century.
Late Gothic and Early Renaissance tapestries with similar borders, but smaller in size and often in single pieces instead of in sets, are those picturing scenes from the Life of Christ, like the Deposition from the Cross 3 metres by 3.28, attributed to Master Philip, in the Brussels Museum; Jesus adored by the Saints, with Concert of Angels, in the Brussels Museum; Saint Luke painting the Virgin and Child, after Van Der Weyden, in the Louvre, illustrated on plate no. 257; the Infant Christ and the Holy Eucharist, in the Brussels Museum; the Baptism of Christ, in the Brussels M useum; the Finding of the Cross by Emperor Constantine, 341 metres by 2.62, in the Brussels Museum; the Calvary, 3.50 metres square and illustrated on plate no. 339, that brought $66,000 at the Dollfus Sale; the Passion, 2.25 metres by 2.45, illustrated in Alba Sale 1877, now in a New York private collection; many in the Royal Spanish Collection.
Wonderfully fascinating also are the Late Gothic triptych tapestries, such as the Mazarin tapestry, described in chapter XVI (Tapestries At The Metropolitan Museum) and illustrated on plate no. 369; the Brussels Museum's Triumph of Christ, illustrated on plate no. 370, and the replica in the Cathedral of Saragossa; Mr. Blumenthal's Story of Charlemagne, illustrated on plate no. 371; the Triumph of the Virgin, dated 1485, presented to the Louvre by Baron Davillier, illustrated on plate no. 269; the Story of the Virgin, in four pieces, in the Royal Spanish Collection.
Still another type of Gothic-Renaissance Transition tapestries is that with much Late Gothic or Early Renaissance architecture, and with air and backgrounds opened up by perspective and shadow, which nevertheless continue to keep the sky-line low and crowd the surface with pattern and personages and inscriptions. I refer to sets like that of Saint Remi, in the Church of Saint Remi at Reims (See plate no. 65); the Story of the Virgin, in the Cathedral of Reims (See plates nos. 261, 289); the Story of Saint Etienne (Stephen), at the Cluny Museum; Saint Quentin, at the Louvre; the Life of Christ, at La Chaise-Dieu; the Story of the Virgin, at Beaune; the fragments of the story of the Eucharist, in the Louvre and in the Boston Fine Arts Museum (See plate no. 73); the Story of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais, at Le Mans.
Especially interesting and largest of all the sets mentioned is the Story of Saint Remi, in the Church of Saint Remi at Reims, of which two - when exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1900, one of them wrong side out in order to display the richness and solidity of the ancient unfaded colours - were very much admired. These tapestries were designed for the nave of the church and are consequently of great size - 16 feet high with a combined width of 165 feet - unlike narrow bands intended for use in the choir, some of which will be described below. Each of the Saint Remi tapestries, except the first, pictures four scenes, one in each corner with a four-line caption in French. The Story begins with the conversion and baptism of Clovis by Saint Remi, founder of the Abbey. On the last panel appears Archbishop de Lenoncourt, the donor, kneeling before the altar with a French inscription below him that reads: In the year fifteen hundred thirty-one The Reverend Robert de Lenoncourt To decorate the place on all sides Had me made.............