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. 91. Raphael's Acts of the Apostles. Above, the Miraculous Draft of Fish, one of a set of eight in the Beauvais Cathedral, signed by Behagle proprietor of the Beauvais Tapestry Works at the end of the XVII century. Below, the Conversion of Saul, one of a set of nine at Hampton Court, purchased at the Alba Sale 1877 by Baron d'Erlanger and by him presented to the British Nation. The tapestries of this set are signed with the Brussels mark and with the monogram of the great early XVII century weaver Jan Raes.
The worst fate of all befell the tapestry of "Elymas Struck Blind." This the soldiers cut in pieces to sell the more readily. A quarter of a century later the Vatican regained possession of enough fragments to piece together half of it. It is missing from the Morgan photographs mentioned below.
After the tapestries were reassembled in Rome they left their places only to be shown to the populace every Corpus Christi. This custom lasted until 1798. In that year the French army under Berthier entered the Holy City. Barely two weeks later the French carried Pius VII off to die in France, after long captivity, and ordered an auction sale of the Vatican furnishings. French second-hand dealers were there in numbers, and among the bargains they picked up were the Raphael tapestries at 1,250 piastres each.
Plate no. 93. Christ's charge to St. Peter. Mortlake tapestry after Raphael, in the French National Collection. In the upper border the arms of Great Britain and Ireland; in the lower the caption in Latin, with Car . re . reg . Mortl. as abbreviation for Carolo rege regnante Mortlake, to show that the tapestry was woven at Mortlake in the reign of Charles I.
The dealers took them to Paris and offered them to the French Government. Pending the decision the tapestries enriched the walls of the Louvre. The new republic apparently had more important uses for its money and let the opportunity pass. The tapestries were returned to Marseilles and finally made their way back to the Vatican in 1808. How they got there no one can explain. This journey terminated their wanderings.
In the photograph room of the Library of the Metropolitan Museum are large photographs, picturing the Vatican set as it is now, especially made for Mr. Morgan and by him presented to the Museum.
One of the most prolific designers of cartoons for tapestries in the style of the Italian Renaissance was Raphael's pupil Giulio Romano. His most famous sets were the Story of Scipio, in 22 pieces, and the Fruits of War, in 8 pieces. For a set of the former François I paid 23,000 ecus, and of the original colour sketches 15 have been discovered by Colonel d'Astier and M. Jean Guiffrey in the Cabinet of Designs at the Louvre. Other sets attributed to Giulio Romano are the Story of Romulus and Remus in the Brussels Museum, woven about 1540 for Cardinal d'Este; and the Grotesque Months (Arabesque), in the French National Collection.
Other sets designed by Italian painters are the ten pieces of Vertumnus and Pomona, acquired by Charles V at Amiens in 1546, now in the Royal
Plate no. 95. Interview between Scipio and Hannibal, a Renaissance tapestry in the Royal Spanish Collection (See chapter XII (History And Romance In Tapestries)). The tapestry illustrated is one of seven from the original designs, signed with the Brussels mark and a monogram, purchased by Mary of Hungary and bequeathed by her to her brother the Emperor Charles V on her death in 1558.
Spanish Collection; the Story of Psyche, in 26 pieces, after sketches by Raphael, some of which are preserved at Fontainebleau and at Pau; the Story of Moses at the Chartres Museum, perhaps modelled on the designs Raphael made for the Loggie; the Story of Vulcan and Venus (See chapter V (Mortlake, Merton, And Other English Looms) under Mortlake).
However, in the midst of all these Italian Renaissance pictures, there were two Flemish painters who held their own - Barend Van Orley and Lucas Van Leyden. To the latter are attributed the Months of Lucas in 12 pieces; to the latter the Hunts of Maximilian, in 12 pieces, otherwise known as the Belles Chasses de Guise because of the famous set owned by the Duke of Guise, woven by Francois Geubels of Brussels, and now in the Louvre. Both sets were immensely popular in the XVII and XVIII centuries as well as in the XVI century, and both were reproduced at the Gobelins (See chapter VI (French Looms, The Gobelins: Beauvais: Aubusson)) over and over again.
Another important set in seven pieces, designed by Van Orley, of which the Louvre has the original sketches, was the Battle of Pavia presented by the Netherlands to Charles V in 1531 (See plate no. 309). It illustrates the Capture of Francis I, his Departure for Spain, and his Captivity at Madrid.
By a curious lack of tact it hung in the very hall of the Palace of Brussels where Admiral Coligny was received in 1556, when he went to ratify the Peace of Vauxcelles in the name of Henri II. By the Infante Don Carlos, eldest son of Philip II, it was bequeathed in his will dated May 19, 1564, to his preceptor Don Honorato Juan. By Don Alfonso de Pescara, last representative of the Avalos family of Naples, it was bequeathed to the Museum of Naples in his will of August 18, 1862. For many years the tapestries were kept in the Museum storeroom, and only recently put on exhibition.
Plate no. 97. Crossing the Red Sea, a Renaissance tapestry in the Imperial Austrian Collection. One of a set of 9 picturing the Story of Moses, all with Latin inscriptions that tell the story.
Another important set dealing with contemporary history was the Conquest of Tunis, woven by Wil-lem Van Pannemaker, of Brussels, for the Emperor Charles V. The designs were by Charles V's painter Vermeyen, who accompanied him on the campaign.