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.
Which, translated, reads: "The rock obedient to the blows of Moses shames the heart of man, stubborn against the blessings of God".
The signature in the bottom selvage is that of Bernardino Van Asselt who had a factory in Florence in the latter half of the XVII century.
The figures are large and well clothed but there is too much open sky and the ground and rocks show the influence of paint technique. The weave is good and comparatively coarse - about fifteen ribs to the inch. The beards and hair of the personages are especially well executed. But the composition does not compare with that of the old Gothic tapestries. The inside frame shadows show the light as coming from above on the right.
Of all the Renaissance tapestries with which I am acquainted none please me more than the two large ones in room F8 of the Decorative Arts Wing. They are splendid examples of the best that the most skilful weaver could accomplish, and the designs are not excelled by any Renaissance tapestry designs with which I am acquainted. The grounds are well covered, especially of the chamber scene, and the decorative idea is kept consistently uppermost. Particularly would I call attention to the gold in basket weave used so skilfully and lavishly in the lower border of both tapestries. Also to the free and effective use of silver in the chamber scene. Silk also was used when silk would help, but never recklessly as in later centuries when false virtuosity dominated the tapestry ateliers. The moment one looks at these tapestries one knows that the master weaver who superintended their execution was at the head of his craft.
Gothic And Renaissance
Plate no. 410. Above, the Capture of Jerusalem by Titus (Gothic). Below, the Capture of a City (Renaissance). These two tapestries, both Flemish, one in the Metropolitan Museum, the other sold at public sale several years ago in New York, afford a good opportunity for comparison, between the Gothic and the Renaissance methods of portrayal. But it should be noted that the lower tapestry is typically Flemish Renaissance, absolutely free from Italian characteristics, and full of details retained from the Gothic.
Plate no. 411. Part of the Capture of Jerusalem by Titus, a Gothic tapestry in the Metropolitan Museum, the whole of which is reproduced on the opposite page. The central figure in this portion is Titus crowned and with the imperial sceptre. On a wagon before him the gold and silver plate from the Jewish Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant. It is interesting to compare this view of the Ark with that pictured in the Story of David tapestry on plate no. 283.
Fortunately we are able to name this great weaver, for, woven in threads of gold on the lower edge of the right-hand border of both tapestries, he left his initials W V P combined into a monogram that appears on many tapestries in the Royal Spanish Collection, which we know by documentary evidence were the product of Willem Van Pannemaker's looms. And if we did not have other evidence, the signature itself, as well as the similarity in style and technique, would compel us to make the same attribution. On the bottom border of one of Mr. Blumen-thal's two tapestries, the double B and shield of Brussels appear. The corresponding part of the other tapestry having worn away was replaced by the repairers without the signature. During the middle of the XVI century, Willem Van Pannemaker was first among makers of tapestry, and everything to which his monogram is attached possesses unusual merit. The borders of the two tapestries before us are adapted copies of the borders that appear on the Acts of the Apostles tapestries in the Spanish Collection, designed by Raphael and woven soon after the weaving of the original set. These tapestries represent in Renaissance work what the Mazarin tapestry represents in Gothic work - the extraordinary results that can be obtained by employing gold and silver thread generously in addition to silk and the basic wool. The subject is the Story of Herse. The original series (of which there is a complete set in the possession of the Duchess de Denia of Spain) contained eight tapestries, and depicted the meeting and courtship of Mercury and Herse. The nuptial scene is shown by No. 6 in the series, the chamber tapestry 14 feet by 18, illustrated in colour plate no. III.
No. 8 in the series, the larger of Mr. Blumenthal's two tapestries (14 feet 5 by 24), shows on the left Aglauros being changed to stone by Hermes, before the eyes of her horrified father Cecrops the first king of Athens. The penalty was inflicted because Aglauros refused to permit Hermes admission to her father's residence and to Herse. Then Mercury soars up over the palace back to Olympus, as pictured on the right of the tapestry, all the courtiers and attendants following his flight with awe-stricken faces, while Cecrops in the foreground lets fall his sceptre.
The only German tapestries in the Museum are six small and rather crude, but not unpleasing, Renaissance panels given by Mr. Morgan. Each is 39 1/4 inches high by 29 3/4 inches wide, and all are enriched with gold and silver. All are topped with a white panel carrying a verse in German from the New Testament appropriate to the scene illustrated, and all are bordered with columns and bear the monograms of both A R and I C M. All of the tapestries are also dated, two 1592, two 1595, one 1598, one 1600. The subject of the set is the Story of Christ, and three of the pieces - Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles, Christ Bearing the Cross, and the Ascension - are after Albrecht Dürer's woodcuts of the Small Passion. Two of the others, the Elevation of the Cross, and the Pentecost, are attributed to the school of Dürer, and the sixth, the Baptism of Christ, to Martin Schöngauer. For illustrations, see plate no. 415. Thomson attributes the A R monogram to Alsace but without giving his reasons. A large Gothic tapestry, one of the most important in the world - belonging to the Museum and hanging in the main entrance hall - is the Capture of Jerusalem by Titus, acquired by purchase in November, 1909. It is a masterpiece of the weaver's art and the design and colourings are characteristic of the Golden Age of tapestry. It closely resembles in style the four Caesar tapestries now in Berne - a present from the Burgundian Duke Charles the Bold to Guillaume de la Beaume, and seized by the Swiss when they pillaged the latter's castle in the war that ended the Burgundian supremacy. The central figure is the Emperor Titus on horseback with the captured Ark of the Covenant on a wagon before him. In the foreground soldiers are disembowelling Jews for the money they had swallowed in order to save it. The story is fully told in the "Mistère de la Vengeance Nostre Seigneur Jesuscrist," a XV century miracle play summarized and partially reprinted in Reims Peintes. Other events of the capture of the city are pictured on the right and on the left with the utmost spirit and vigour. The tapestry has improved greatly by cleaning since it came into the possession of the Museum and was first hung (See plates nos. 410, 411).
Plate no. 415. Two Scenes from the Life of Christ, part of a set of six Late German Renaissance tapestries given to the Metropolitan Museum by Mr. Morgan (See chapter XVI (Tapestries At The Metropolitan Museum)). Note the New Testament inscriptions in German and the weavers' monograms, AR and ICM. Also, the dates, one of which is in the panel below the caption. The scene on the left is the Ascension, on the right Christ washing the Feet of the Apostles.