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.
Especially popular in the XVI century was the Story of Abraham, of which there is a set of ten in the Imperial Austrian Collection signed by Willem Van Pannemaker, a set of seven in the Royal Spanish Collection signed by Willem Van Pannemaker, and a set of eight at Hampton Court. The three sets, borders and all, are from the same cartoons. The full set was still at Hampton Court in 1548 when an inventory was taken of Henry VIII's effects: "Tenne peces of newe arras of thistorie of Abraham." In the Charles I Inventory of 1649, they were appraised at £10 a yard, amounting to a total of £8,260, and were not sold but retained for the use of Cromwell. The Spanish set formerly belonged to Charles V's daughter, Jeanne, and numbered only seven in the inventory made at the time of her death in 1570. The Austrian set has in the upper part of the panel, on the right and on the left, the Lorraine coat of arms with the Cardinal's hat of Duke Charles of Lorraine-Vaudé-mont, who died in 1587. The borders are divided into compartments with porticoes, after the fashion of the borders on the set of Raphael's Acts of the Apostles in the Royal Spanish Collection. The story of each tapestry is told in a Latin inscription on a goat's hide in the middle of the top border. The inscriptions read as follows: (1) God appears to Abraham, who by God's command leaves his country, builds an altar, worships God. (2) Sarah stolen by the Egyptians is restored with gifts. God shows Abraham the land of Canaan. (3) In order to avoid strife, Abraham allowed Lot to choose the place of his habitation. Abraham lives in Canaan, Lot goes to Sodom. (4) Abraham returning from the slaughter of the four kings was met by Melchize-dech, King of Salem, and priest of the Most High God, who offered him bread and wine. (5) God appears to Abraham and promises him a son. Sarah laughs. Abraham makes intercession for Sodom, that with other cities is destroyed by fire from Heaven. (6) Hagar is cast forth with her son. Abraham gives them food and drink, but the boy suffers from thirst and Hagar laments. She is consoled by an angel and Ishmael becomes an archer. (7) Abraham, by the divine oracle, is commanded to sacrifice his only son Isaac. (8) Eliezer swore, beneath the thigh of his master Abraham, that he would not accept a wife for Isaac from the daughters of the Canaanites but from his own kin, and taking camels and gifts he went off into Mesopotamia. (9) And when he had come to the fountain and Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, had given to him asking a drink from her pitcher, and had drawn water for the camels, he knew by the oracle that she was to be wife to the son of Abraham. (10) Sarah dies. Abraham buys a field for her sepulchre, marries another wife, dies, is buried.
Plate no. 285. Part of a Story of David tapestry at the Cluny Museum, the second in the set of ten. In this tapestry that is 4.52 metres by 8.16 Uriah summoned by King David returns from the army, receives from the hand of the King a message for Joab, and taking leave of his wife Bathsheba sets forth. The part of the tapestry reproduced on this page is the upper left corner and gives a view of David and Bathsheba (david, bersabe) behind the scenes.
The Marriage Of Tobias And Sara
Tobias Welcomed By His Father Tobit
Plate no. 287. On the right, Tobias Welcomed by his Father Tobit. Gobelin XVIII century Tapestry, 4 metres by 3. On the left, the Marriage of Tobias and Sara. XVII century Delft Tapestry 2.68 metres by 2.65, in the Royal Swedish Collection. The Delft tapestry bears the Delft mark HD with a shield between (visible on the selvage in the lower left hand corner of our illustration) as well as the mark of Aerts Spierinck. To make assurance doubly sure the weaver also signed on the lower part of the square wooden frame (woven) Arnoldus. Spiringius . Fecit . anno . 1626.
The Gobelin tapestry is signed on the left Ant Coypel pzt., on the right, Neilson [here a fleur-de-lis] ex. 1753.
The Story of Moses received special attention in the Imperial Austrian Collection, which has one XVIII century unsigned set of six pieces; one XVII century set of six signed with the Brussels mark and either IAN LEYNIERS or EVERAERT LEY-NIERS; one XVII century set of seven pieces signed with the Brussels mark and either IAN PERM EN-TIERS or H. REYDAMS; one XVI century set of nine pieces signed with the Lorraine double cross (which marks the place of weaving as Nancy, capital of Lorraine), and with the monograms of two of the weavers who signed the Gonzaga set of the Acts of the Apostles. Some of the same cartoons were used in the first XVII century as in the XVI century Moses set. The XVI century set is illustrated complete in Birk Austrian. It is one of the most beautiful sets ever woven, with compartment borders after the style of the Vatican Acts of the Apostles side borders, and with the arms of Lorraine in the top of the left border and of Lorraine-Denmark in the top of the right border. The double cross of Lorraine also appears several times on the drum in the foreground of No. 4 of the set. The Story of each of the nine tapestries is told in three lines of Latin in the middle of the top border.
Plate no. 280. The Perfections of the Virgin, one of the Gothic-Renaissance set at the Cathedral of Reims picturing the Story of the Virgin in 17 pieces, presented by Archbishop Robert de Lenoncourt whose name and 1530 the date of completion appear in no. 16. His coat of arms appears on every piece. In the tapestry illustrated above, the Virgin is busy at a tapestry loom - an all-hand one (See chapter VIII (The Texture Of Tapestries. Arras Tapestries. Greek And Roman Tapestries. High Warp And Low Warp. The Process Of Weaving)) - and has a pointed bobbin (broche) in her right hand. Supporting the columns on each side of her, are unicorns, the fabulous animal symbolic of chastity. Note the Gothic verdure ground with animals below, and the band of Renaissance rinceaux with fleurs-de-lis and winged heads above.