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.
Among the various sets were the Chambers of the Vatican copied after Raphael's paintings there, the Sujets de la Fable after Giulio Romano, the Sujets de la Fable after Raphael, the Fruits of War after Giulio Romano, the Story of Scipio after Giulio Romano, the Hunts of Maximilian after Barend Van Orley, the Arabesque Months, the Months of Lucas, the Triumphs of the Gods after Noel Coypel, the Gallery of Saint-Cloud after Pierre Mignard, the Indies.
The subjects of the ten pieces of the Chambers of the Vatican are: of three, the Battle of Constan-tine against Maxentius; the Vision of Constantine, the School of Athens, the Pope's Mass, Attila Driven from Rome, Parnassus, Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, Burning of the City of Rome.
The Sujets de la Fable (classic stories) in eight pieces after Giulio Romano tell the Story of Psyche and are also called the Amours de Psyche. The Sujets de la Fable after Raphael, also in eight pieces, are the Judgment of Paris, the Elopement of Helen, the Marriage of Alexander and Roxane, the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, Venus and Adonis, Venus in her Car, two nymph-and-satyr dances. The Fruits of War in eight pieces, was copied from a Brussels XVI century set in the Royal Collection. Later, in the time of Louis XVI, the French Crown acquired three of Giulio Romano's original cartoons that had been preserved in the Duke of Mantua's palace until 1830, when it was raided by the Imperial troops. The Story of Scipio in ten pieces, the Hunts of Maximilian in twelve pieces (one for each month in the year), the Arabesque Months, the Months of Lucas were also copied from precious old Brussels tapestries in the Royal Collection.
The Old Indies as they are called to distinguish them from the New Indies designed by Desportes in the XVIII century, were taken from eight paintings that had been presented to the King by the Prince of Nassau (See plate no. 333). In them are pictured in rich profusion the men, animals, plants and fruits of the Indies "painted on the spot." In token of the visits of the Russian Emperor Peter the Great to the Gobelins, May 12 and June 15, 1717, the first high warp set of the Indies was presented to him with others. This set was used in St. Petersburg as a model in the tapestry works founded by Peter the Great (See chapter VII (Other Looms. American, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian)). In 1900, according to M. Fenaille, only a fragment of the original piece picturing Animals Fighting, remained in St. Petersburg - in the Imperial Carriage Museum.
Pierre Mignard, painter of the Gallery of Saint-Cloud, succeeded to Lebrun's position on his death in 1690, and had undermined his influence after the death of Colbert, with the support of Louvois, as far back as 1685. The six subjects from Saint Cloud, reproduced in tapestry, were Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Parnassus, Latona (See plate no. 357). The set is very attractive.
At least seven of the eight pieces of the Triumphs of the Gods were copied by Noel Coypel from old Brussels tapestries called, on the book of Gobelins, "Rabesques de Raphael." Certainly several of the smaller figures are the same as those in the decorations of the Loggie of the Vatican and in the borders of the original XVI century sets of the Acts of the Apostles tapestries.
Among the most successful of the new sets, after the period of stagnation at the Gobelins from 1694 to 1697, due to lack of money in the Royal Purse, were the Four Seasons and the Four Elements (the Portieres of the Gods), by Claude Audran the younger. These panels are in the Grotesque style of the Arabesque Months and the Triumphs of the Gods, but made thoroughly French and fascinating to a degree. Spring is typified by Venus, Summer by Ceres, Autumn by Bacchus, Winter by Saturn, Air by Juno, Earth by Diana, Water by Neptune, Fire by Jupiter. There is a perfect set of the Four Elements in at least one New York residence. These Portieres of the Gods were woven over and over again in the XVIII century, and finally in 1771, Jacques Neilson, who had been so successful with the crimson damassť ground for the Don Quixote series, applied it also to this series, and with equal success.
Among tapestries copied and remodelled by different painters from old XVI century designs were those picturing Ovid's Metamorphoses - Renaud and Armide, Diana Back from the Hunt, Apollo and the Python, Argus and Mercury, Psyche and Cupid, Apollo and Hyacinth, Flora and Zephyrus, Narcissus and the nymph Echo, Venus and Adonis, Vertumnus and Pomona, Bacchus and Ariadne, Cephale and Procris.
Plate no. 175. Diana. a Grotesque panel after Claude Audran, designed and woven at the beginning of the XVIII century. It is one of the four portieres symbolizing the Elements: Diana Earth, Neptune Water, Juno Air, Jupiter Fire. The example illustrated is in the French National Collection, but there is at least one perfect set in a New York private collection.
Other sets begun in the declining years of Louis XIV were the Twelve Grotesque Months after Claude Audran (in narrow vertical bands assembled into three pieces, the first three months, the next six, the last three); the Old Testament in eight pieces after Antoine and Charles Coypel; the New Testament in eight pieces after Jean Jouvenet and Jean Restout; a new set of the Metamorphoses of Ovid in 15 pieces after different painters.
Of all XVIII century Gobelin tapestries, the Don Quixote series was most admired and most reproduced. All the 28 scenes were the work of Charles Coypel, who was barely 20 when he completed the first in 1714 - which for a long time caused part of the credit to be given to his father Antoine. Charles Coypel added a scene a year until 1734, and finally in 1751, a few years before his death, the last, Don Quixote with the Kitchen Maids. Coypel first appears to have been paid for one of his Don Quixote paintings on Oct. 1, 1716, when he received 400 livres. On Jan. 1, 1717, he received 400 livres for a second; on March 25, 1717, 2,800 livres for 7, etc.