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.
In order to know tapestries, it is necessary to study not only actual examples, but also the illustrations contained in books on tapestry and in catalogues of sales and collections. It is also necessary to take advantage of the best that has been written on the subject, and to learn to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. The purpose of this chapter is to make this easy, and by furnishing abbreviations of titles to save space in the other chapters. The abbreviations are printed in italics to make them catch the eye quickly. Illustrations I have described as line, or half-tone, or photographic, arbitrarily employing the term photographic to denote illustrations from photograph not translated through line or screen. All of the books named, except as otherwise noted, can be consulted at the Library of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Many of them are also to be found in the New York Public Library, the Library of Columbia University, the Boston Public Library, and the Library of the Boston Fine Arts Museum. Guiffrey Bibliography very properly heads any list of books on tapestry, for M. Jules Guiffrey is first among writers on tapestry. As director of the Gobelins, and as archivist, he had extraordinary opportunities to gratify his love for tapestries and tapestry literature, and render service to other lovers of tapestry by the publication of records and documents previously inaccessible. The title of M. Guiffrey's bibliography of tapestry is La Tapisserie, Paris, 1904. It contains 1,083 titles and has an excellent index.
South Kensington Bibliography is a pamphlet, printed for the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1888, containing a list of books in the Museum Library on textiles, pages 36 to 48 on tapestry. Macomber Bibliography, of which there are copies in the Library of the Metropolitan Museum and in the Boston Public Library (the latter with annotations and additions in handwriting), is a privately printed (Boston, 1895) catalogue and bibliography of books, pamphlets, and magazine articles assembled by M. Alfred Darcel the distinguished writer on tapestries, and now a part of the library of Mr. Frank Gair Macomber.
Guiffrey Générale. Pinchart Generate. Muentz Géné-rale. These are the three abbreviations I have chosen to stand for the three monumental volumes of the great Histoire Générale de la Tapisserie, Paris, 1874-84. Guiffrey wrote the text of the volume on French tapestries; Pinchart Flemish; Müntz Italian, German, and English. There are 105 large and separately mounted photographic illustrations besides line illustrations in the text. This book is not easy reading, but it is a mine of facts. Of course some of its conclusions have been superseded by later investigations.
Plate no. 325. Susannah and the Elders, a Late Gothic tapestry, 13 feet by 10 feet 10, bought by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1832 for £190. The shields in the corners were sewn in after the completion of the tapestry. The border with its curious birds and winding foliage is especially interesting. Susannah whose identity is made certain by the caption susenne perfumes the bath, apparently unconscious of observation.
Jubinal Tapisseries was the first, and, for nearly half a century, remained the only important book on tapestry. Published in Paris in 1838 in two volumes, Les Anciennes Tapisseries Historiées by Achille Jubinal, presents 123 immense hand-coloured line plates from drawings by Victor Sansonnetti. Of these illustrations 24 do not come within the scope of my book as they illustrate the Bayeux Tapestry, which is not a woven tapestry at all but an embroidery. The tapestries illustrated are all early examples - none later than the XVI century - those in the church of La Chaise-Dieu (an ancient little village in the South of France), of the cathedral of Aix ancient capital of Provence, of the Château d'Aulhac near Issoire, of Beauvais, Reims, Nancy, Dijon, of the so-called Tapisserie de Bayard (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum), of Valenciennes, and of the Château d'Haroué. Jubinal's text describing the tapestries contains much information that has been overlooked by some later writers.
Migeon, Thomson, Guiffrey Histoire, Muentz, are the best general books on tapestry for the average reader. Migeon's Les Arts du Tissu, Paris, 1909, devotes nearly half of its space to tapestries, and has a wealth of illustrations in half-tone and a good bibliography, but an inadequate index. It is more readable than either Müntz or Thomson. Thomson's History of Tapestry, London, 1906, did pioneer work on English tapestries, particularly Mortlake. He was the first to unearth valuable material buried in the public and private records of Great Britain, and I wish here to express my great indebtedness to him. Many of the records consulted by him have been published and are to be found in the Avery Library. The only copy that I know of John Eustace Anderson's A Short Account of the Tapestry Works at Mortlake (Anderson Mortlake) is in the Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum, that also has an exclusive typewritten copy of a manuscript that gives King James's copy of the agreement made by Henri IV with Comans and Planche (Newton Mortlake). The manuscript belongs to Mr. C. E. Newton Robinson. Mr. Thomson's book has four very fine half-tone illustrations in colour, and many in black and white half-tone. He illustrates in line no less than 371 tapestry marks and signatures, but without sufficient data. His three extensive indexes - List of the Chief Centres of Manufacture, List of Subjects of Tapestries, List of Tapestries and Merchants, Painters, Designers, Directors, etc. - are invaluable. Eugene Müntz's La Tapisserie, Paris, 1881, with English translation published in London, 1885 (both out of print), and Jules Guiffrey's Histoire de la Tapisserie, Tours, 1886, were the first two general handbooks on the subject. Both are generously illustrated in line, and the latter has also four very handsome lithographs in colour illustrating scenes from the Lady with the Unicorn, at the Cluny, the Angers Apocalypse, the Angers Saint Martin, Louis XIV