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. 339. Calvary, Renaissance tapestry after Barend Van Orley, sold at the Berwick and Alba sale in 1877 for $5000, at the Dollfus sale in 1912 for $60,000 besides charges. Woven in Brussels in the first part of the XVI century, of wool and silk enriched with gold. Eleven feet five inches square. Reddish border of floriate branches loaded with fruit. In the middle, Christ crucified beneath the inscription in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS. On either side, the two robbers bound to their crosses. At the feet of Christ, two holy women richly clothed. In the foreground on the left, the Virgin fainted, sustained by two other holy women. Behind this group, Saint John running up, with hands clasped above his head. In the foreground on the right, the executioner gathering up his tools. Behind him two soldiers and numerous other personages, some mounted. In the background, hills and valleys and woods and buildings.
Baptism And Descent
Plate no. 341. The Baptism of Christ and the Descent from the Cross, two Early Renaissance tapestries, the former 2.24 metres by 2.67, the latter 3 metres by 3.28, both in the Brussels Museum. Behind the baptism scene are pictured the three temptations of Jesus by the devil. One of the personages in the Descent bears on the border of his robe the name "Philiep," which is supposed to be the signature of the artist, Master Philip. The Descent was purchased in 1861 for 2,035 francs. The Baptism formerly belonged to the Berwick and Alba Collection, and to Baron d'Erlanger.
Plate no. 343. Scene from the Story of Telemachus, a Late XVII century tapestry signed with the Brussels mark and H. REYDAMS. This was a favorite type of tapestry at this period and during the XVIII century - much verdure contrasting strongly with architecture and sky and figures, bordered French Fashion with a woven gilt frame.
Gunzbourg 1884, Chateau de V---------- 1884, all of which are listed with prices in the appendix of Guiffrey Histoire, who also gives the prices received at the Berwick and Alba and many miscellaneous sales before 1886.
Suzanne Sale 1910. Among other photographic illustrations in the catalogue of the tapestries coming from the Château de Suzanne, and sold in Amsterdam in 1910, are three out of a set of five tapestries on the Story of Artemisia. One of the five pieces is signed with the monogram of F. M. and several with the Paris mark, a P with fleurs-de-lis. The set was designed and first woven as testimony of the sorrow of Catherine at the death of Henri II. It pictured the events of a long poem composed by Nicolas Honel, in which Henri II figures as King Mausolus, and Catherine as Queen Artemisia, and the young prince, Charles IX, as Lygdamis. The designs were by Antoine Caron and Henri Lerambert. The tapestries are 4.10 metres high and vary in width from 1.52 to 5.72.
San Donato Sale 1880 (Demidoff). One of the greatest decorative art sales ever known was at Florence in 1880. Prince Demidoff offered to the public the treasures of the famous palace of San Donato. Among the important tapestries, some illustrated in the catalogue in line, were nos. 4, 36 (five Bouchers); 109 (set of nine large Flemish tapestries, one signed K V Mander, Fecit. AN. 1619, except that the K and the V combine with the M into a monogram initial); 398 (Late Gothic Madonna with Concert of Angels 2.40 metres by 2.85); 435 (Calvary); 1525-28, 1697-1700 (eight large XVII century Flemish tapestries picturing the Story of Titus); 1927, 1936 (both Gobelins); 1939 (Late Gothic Last Judgment 4.25 metres by 8.20).
Plate no. 345. The Wood Cutters, a fascinating Gothic tapestry in the Musée des Arts Défcoratifs. Interesting to compare with it is the Sheep Shearing fragment in the Brussels Museum.
Among American sale catalogues that illustrate tapestries are: Marquand 1903, nos. 1316-32; White 1907, nos. 162, 163, 164, 222, 223; Poor 1909, Garland 1909, Yerkes 1910, nos. 229-242; Hoe 1911, nos. 2936-41; Robb 1912. The illustrations in the Yerkes catalogue are photographic and of unusual excellence, particularly the four Gobelin Loves of the Gods, the large Renaissance tapestry and the six Tenières.
Some collectors like to have catalogues of their collections prepared while they are still alive, under their own direction. Extremely interesting to tapestry lovers are the catalogues of the Spitzer Collection 1890, Pannwitz Collection 1905, Le Roy Collection 1908. The Spitzer catalogue, partly completed at the time of his death in 1890, is most elaborate, with six huge folio volumes of text and six of photographic plates. The tapestries, 23 in number, are described interestingly by Eugene Müntz in text-volume I; and in plate-volume I there are splendid colour illustrations of seven. On the death of M. Spitzer, Edmond Bonnaffé published a little volume of appreciation entitled Le Musée Spitzer. Volume IV of the catalogue of the collection of
Plate no. 347. Late Gothic tapestry, 6.10 metres by 4.30, picturing two scenes from the story of Judith and Holophernes. It brought 21,000 francs at the Somzée Sale, 1901. In the left panel, Judith and her maid appear twice, first in the upper left corner with the Virgin and Child in the heavens above them, then below in audience with Holophernes, in whose sight, as says the Latin inscription above, Judith's beauty and wit found favor. In the right panel, Judith is banqueting in state with Holophernes.