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.
Mars, Venus, and Apollo, 12 feet long. Vulcan and the Gods, 10 feet long. Neptune and Vulcan, 8 feet 9 inches long. Vulcan drawing the Net, 8 feet 6 inches long. Vulcan forging, 8 feet 6 inches long. Vulcan and Cupid, 8 feet 3 inches long.
These tapestries were without borders and were in sizes calculated from the wall spaces in the Countess's new dining-room - shorter and much narrower than the Vulcan and Venus tapestries woven for Charles I at Mortlake. These Lambeth tapestries are now in Haddon Hall.
In 1676 the King paid Thomas Poyntz, who in 1667, had joined Francus Poyntz in a memorial to the King on the revival of tapestry weaving, £451 18s. 4d., for eight pieces of tapestry at 27s. 6d. per ell. Ten years later he received £8 10s. per ell for three unusually fine tapestries enriched with gold to decorate the Queen's chamber at Windsor Castle. The subject was the Months. A panel representing November and December, part of a set formerly in Houghton and signed by Thomas Poyntz, was sold in London in 1802. Thomas Poyntz also wove four fine pieces at £8 per ell (142 1/4 ells), for the Queen's bedchamber in Whitehall.
After 1689, when John Vanderbank became manager (yeoman arras-maker), of the King's Great Wardrobe, Great Queen Street in Soho seems to have become the centre of tapestry production. So famous was he by 1718 that the Tatler says that "no person ever represented Nature more happily in works of Tapestry." At Glenham Hall there are four Indo-Chinese tapestries woven by him, that were formerly the property of Elihu Yale, founder of Yale College. The designs like that of plate 147, and like two at Belton signed by Vanderbank, resemble those of contemporary lacquer work from which they were probably adapted. Vander-bank also wove the Elements, after Lebrun, for several patrons. Three pieces bearing the arms of John, fifth Earl of Exeter (1678-1760), at Burley House are signed J. V. D. B., the initials of John Vanderbank. Vanderbank wove a number of tapestries for the Crown in addition to keeping the Crown tapestries in repair, and was active until 1727, when he was succeeded by Moses Vanderbank.
Plate no. 147. Oriental Scenes, an all-silk English Tapestry 9 feet by 17 feet 6, of the Late XVII or Early XVIII century. The design like that of four Indo-Chinese tapestries at Glenham Hall, that once belonged to the founder of Yale College, and that were woven by John Vanderbank (See chapter V (Mortlake, Merton, And Other English Looms)), and like that of two tapestries at Belton signed by the same weaver, resembles contemporary lacquer work from which they were adapted.
About Stephen Demay we know from the correspondence and accounts preserved at Burley-on-the-Hill, a mansion built by Daniel Finch, second Earl of Nottingham, in the reign of William and Mary. The documents date from the years 1700-1708, and I am indebted for my facts about them to an article by Pearl Finch in the Connoisseur, that contains half-tone illustrations of two of the four Hero and Leander, and two of the nine Acts of the Apostles tapestries, woven by Demay for the noble Earl. The two Hero and Leander panels are the same pictures as, and undoubtedly copies of, Cleyn's original cartoons mentioned earlier in the chapter, from which was woven for King Charles I by Philip de Maecht the set enriched with gold and silver that is now in the Royal Swedish Collection (4 1/2 pieces out of 6). The borders of the Nottingham copies are much narrower and less interesting than those of the original set, and of course contain the Nottingham instead of the Royal arms. Miss Finch thinks that the set cost from £300 to £400.
The set was recently repaired and restored, and there is a similar set in the possession of Lord Newton of Lyme. The Earl of Nottingham's account book shows under date of 1704, a small pen-and-ink sketch and in his own handwriting:
"The Great Sweemer, 9 ft. 9 in.; The Temple, a great piece reduced conveniently to the dimensions, 9 ft. 9 in.; Hero and Leander, both dead, 15 ft. 10 in.; Father, Son, and Ship, 15 ft. 10 in.; The Depth - the first peece to have both borders - the second only ye right hand border, the third only ye left hand border, the fourth to have both borders".
Again in 1708: "The peece of the Ship contaign-ing twenty-two ells, a quarter & half a quarter. the peece of the Sweemer, twenty-one ells, three-quarters & a half. The peece of the Dead contaigning thirty-five ells. The ship, 35. The Temple, 22 1/2. The Sweemer, 21 3/4. The Dead, 35. Total, 114 1/2. The goeing, £0 17 06. The Canvas, £1 08 00. Total, £2 05 06. For box & Carriche backward & forward, £0 09 00. Total £2 14 06." And earlier: "Paid Mr. Demay ye Tapestry Maker more on account of ye Leander Hangings, £50." "Mr. Demay ye Tapestry maker on account, £100." "Paid Mr. Demay in full for the Hero & Leandre, £30".
Lord Nottingham's Acts of the Apostles were the same pictures as those woven at Mortlake from the Raphael cartoons now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, except that Christ's Charge to Peter was woven in two pieces with the figure of the Good Shepherd in a panel by itself; and the Death of Sapphira was added, perhaps designed especially for Lord Nottingham. The borders are distinctly Late XVII century in style and much inferior to the ones used at Mortlake. They show the Nottingham coat of arms in top border, and the side borders are marble columns. The account book gives the combined width of the nine pieces as 142 feet 7 inches and:
"Paid Mr. Demay in full for nine pieces of Apostle Hangings, £700; paid Mr. Demay for twenty-nine ells added to the Apostles Hangings in full of all demands, £58. Total £758".
Very interesting is Demay's letter to Lord Nottingham on the completion of the cartoons:
"My Lord, - I make bold to acquaint your Lordship that ye cartoons are done according to your Lordship's dimensions. If his Lordship would be pleased to send me how I must start them down and shall follow your Lordship's order accordingly. I have got ye scratches of ye fine French roles, and if your Ldsp. will be pleased to have them sent down with ye hangings it shall be done. The piece of ye Blind, three additions to four ells and half a quarter, the addition of Paul preaching comes to eleven ells a quarter and half a quarter, the addition of ye piece of sacrifice comes to thirteen ells and three-quarters, in all twenty-nine ells one quarter, at two pounds per ell comes to fifty-eight pounds ten shillings for fourteen days of three men's labour, or joining them at two shillings a day per man four pounds, wch in all comes to sixty-two pounds fourteen which with ye fore bill, comes to £42 14s., wch I beg ye favour of your Lordship to be so kind as to send it to me, I being in soe great want of it that I am forced to send mans away for want of money, therefore I hope your Lordship will have pitty upon me. . . . I am with great respect to your Lordship.
"Your most humble and most obedient servant to command,
Also interesting is Lord Nottingham's letter to Demay dated August 23, 1700:
"These three pieces following must be enlarged in which care must be taken first that the Coat of Arms in ye upper border and ye blank space in ye bottom border be placed in ye middle of each piece when enlarged to ye following dimensions, hereinafter directed, and in this case either add all yt is wanting to make up, the dimensions to one side of ye piece of hangings, or part of one side and ye rest on ye other, according as you find best, taking ye border part of ye cartoon, which is not yet in ye hangings to ye dimensions required, choose out of ye other cartoons such figures as will best quit with ye piece which is to be enlarged, and to the piece of the Sacrifice sow on a piece of girt web one half loose hanging to ye middle in ye corner of ye room at ye distance from ye left hand".
Other XVIII century tapestry works in England were those of Peter Parisot at Fulham, and of Paul Saunders at Soho. The Fulham works had a life of only five years in spite of the backing of the Duke of Cumberland. The catalogue of the closing out sale in 1755 shows rugs in savonnerie weave, and tapestry furniture coverings and screen panels, but no important wall hangings. Paul Saunders merits more attention. His work reminds one of that of his Brussels contemporary Daniel Leyniers. A set in the possession of the Duke of Cumberland, landscape compositions with ruined temples and peasants, is signed P. Saunders Soho, 1758. Other characteristic tapestries by him show a laden camel with attendant bearing a lance, a horse with pink drapery and a man wearing a turban, two women playing dice. From 1760 to 1770 Saunders did important work altering and repairing the tapestries of the Great Wardrobe. The English XVIII century weaver named Bradshaw, we know from his signature on a sofa at Belton House - illustrated in colour in the Art Journal for October, 1911, and described by Mr. Francis Lenygon - and from two overdoor pieces picturing Venus, Vulcan and Cupid, made for Holkham House.