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.
"Vulcan - another set of very fine low-warp tapestry hangings of wool and silk enriched with gold, made in England, composed of nine pieces, in which is represented the Story of Vulcan, having a large border all around ornamented with marks, foliage, and faces in bas-relief with shields of the arms of the house of Boukinquan [the French tortured poor Buckingham's name variously in the XVII century], the said tapestry 3 2/3 aunes high, in all 41 3/8 aunes lined with white canvas".
The Assemblage of the gods to see the Intrigue.........
Apollo watching Mars and
Vulcan Spreading the Net. .
Complaint of Vulcan to Neptune..................
Apollo revealing the Intrigue
The Complaint of Vulcan to
Discovery of the Intrigue by
Vulcan at the Forge ....................
The Swedish inventory mentioned above, and a study of the story as told in Homer's Odyssey and Ovid's Metamorphoses, enable one to rearrange these pictures in their proper order, which is nos. 1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 7, 4, 2, 5.
The aunes used in the Mazarin inventory are French aunes 46 3/4 inches long. The Flemish aunes used in England were 27 inches long. So that a square French aune equals 3 square Flemish aunes. The number of Flemish aunes given by D. Burton, as in the first set of Vulcan and Venus, woven at Mortlake (the gold sets being identical except for the gold), is 479 and a fraction. The number of square French aunes in the Mazarin set of Mortlake Vulcan and Venus, obtained by multiplying the height by the combined widths, is 153 and a fraction. Multiplying 153 by 3 gives 459, which is what would be expected, making allowance for the shrinkage due to age.
The reader will note that the Mazarin inventory describes the set as bearing the arms of Buckingham. The one of the set that has survived in Sweden also bears the arms of Buckingham, but overlaid with the arms of the King of Sweden.
Who designed the tapestries is a question still open for investigation. Sir Sackville Crow, in his letter to the Countess of Rutland, dated May 7, 1670, says Rivières, and he ought to know. And in the same breath he refers to Mantegna as the author of the Triumph of Caesar cartoons. That the designs originated in the XVI century is clear from the five XVI century Brussels tapestries first exhibited to the modern world in Paris in 1876, at the exposition of the Union Centrale, after having been long buried in the grade-meuble (wardrobe) of the Chateau de la Roche-Guyon. One bears the Brussels mark in the bottom selvage and all carry the signature of the maker in the vertical selvage on the right - the letter R with a tiny flower in gold (See Alfred Darcel on page 189 of volume XVI of the Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1876). L'Art for the year 1881 gives large illustrations of all five in line. One of the scenes is the same as that in the Victoria and Albert Museum tapestry mentioned above, and another is the same as that of Mrs. Von Zedlitz's tapestry, except that the latter extends farther on the right, showing the whole of the boat instead of only part.
Perhaps by Rivières, Sir Sackville Crow meant George Van Der Rivière, an historical and decorative painter who worked for the magistracy of Ghent from 1528 to 1576 (See Adolphe Siret, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Louvain, 1883).
However that may be, the borders of the Mort-lake tapestries last named are radically different from the XVI century borders, while the borders of the three panels belonging to Mr. Hiss are the same with slight modifications. These three panels are all signed with the Mortlake mark and two with Philip de Maecht's monogram. But the most interesting feature is that these three tapestries all carry in the top border, added long after the tapestries were woven, the coat of arms (See plate no. 123), of Charles-Auguste Goyon de Gacè de Matignon (1647-1729), who commanded the expedition fitted out in the Spring of 1708 by Louis XIV to help Prince James (son of James II of England, and known to history as the Old Pretender), back to the throne via Scotland. He had 6,000 French soldiers with him, and after being delayed a week at Dunkirk because Prince James fell ill of the measles, finally set sail on the night of March 17. They had planned to land at Leith, but the French admiral missed the Firth of Forth in the night and being followed up closely by the English fleet, finally returned to Dunkirk. So the expedition was a complete failure, and the only one who came out ahead, as Voltaire puts it, was Matignon who, on opening his orders at sea, had found himself designated Marshal of France. Evidently Prince James was also beforehand with a token of appreciation, in the form of these three tapestries.
No one of the three is the same picture as any of the original set of nine. The second and third are a pair designed in the same style and with the same personages. The first is different in scale and was evidently added at the desire of the person for whom they were woven. These three are shorter than the original Mortlake ones and were clearly planned to fit a particular room.