Brussels tapestry, mid-16th century. Technical... - Lot 387 - FEE - Stanislas Machoïr

Lot 387
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Estimation :
18000 - 20000 EUR
Brussels tapestry, mid-16th century. Technical... - Lot 387 - FEE - Stanislas Machoïr
Brussels tapestry, mid-16th century. Technical characteristics : Wool and silk. Dimensions: Height: 280cm; Width: 430cm. Probably part of a 12-panel tapestry, "Fabulous Animals", after cartoons by Pieter Coecke van Aelst le Jeune. Brussels tapestry from 1550-1560, part of an exceptional hanging of "Fabulous Animals" probably woven from cartoons by Pieter Coecke van Aelst le Jeune; to be compared with the 8 panels (by Jean Tons II) of the hanging in the collections of the Château de Serrant (France); the panel (by Jean Tons II), bearing the mark of the merchant Catherine van den Eynde, in the Palazzo Savelli Orsini, seat of the Sovereign Order of Malta, in Rome (Italy); and the 3 Jagellonian hangings, totaling 44 panels (by William Tons), in the Wawel Castle in Krakow (Poland). Woven in Brussels in the second half of the 16th century, the tapestry is more like a bestiary, combining local animals with fantastical and exotic ones in an exuberant, wild composition. The 16th century was a time of religious wars and great discoveries. Artists (English, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Flemish) set off for Italy, returning with new ideas and techniques. Charles V and Francis I alternated periods when they fought each other with periods when they peaceful rivalry through their shared passions: hunting and tapestries. In this century of turbulence, when religious schisms were tearing Europe apart, people were trying to find new explanations for the world and for myths, in often symbolic descriptions of nature. Thus, beyond the simple representation of marvelous landscapes, inspired by the zoology plates in vogue, Flemish weavers wanted to illustrate moral stories. Sometimes, these animals are engaged in a battle that has to do with Christ or the human soul. Thus : Good and Evil, God and Devil, weak and strong, are incarnated in the guise of real, exotic, mythological or sometimes monstrous animals. Here, the tapestry is more fabulous than the 8 panels of the Serrant Castle hanging or even the 44 panels of the 3 Jagiellonian hangings at the Wawel. The luxuriantly vegetated landscape, where tree ferns grow alongside palms and other plants, features a dragon fighting a phoenix in the foreground on the left, suggesting the devil's battle against Christ, who will rise from the dead (coinciding with Easter and the astrological sign of Aries, March 21-April 20). This fight takes place under the gaze of an elephant bird (Aepyornis Maximus, actually measuring 2.50m in height), a fabulous animal, now extinct, that lived in Madagascar and whose discovery by the Portuguese in 1500 undoubtedly impressed the European populations of the time. Just to his right, a red ibis, a firebird par excellence, seeks its pittance in a marsh on the edge of which a moorhens defends its nest against a varan. On the far right, a ram appears to represent the astrological sign to which this panel is attributed. In the background, in the undergrowth, we see a marsupial - a strange animal for the inhabitants of Flanders at the time - and across the entire width to the left, a number of more "common" animals: ducks, deer, unicorn, owl, squirrel, wild boar, lynx, deer, lion, heron, wolf, rabbit and even an aurochs to signify that this is the world we live in. Just to be sure, a horseman can be seen a little above the dragon, looking like a prince, to confirm that man is indeed evolving among all these creatures. In the rich borders, which cleverly spill over onto the main panel, grotesques, birds and other animals and characters, fruits and flowers, each more extraordinary than the last, and astrological signs appear. No doubt the author of these cartoons, probably William Tons, wanted to blend old pagan symbols with Christian values, omnipresent at the time, inspired by the cruelty of the world here below and the hope to which David's hymn calls ("The lion and the lamb will live together"), in order to deliver different messages about creation and the future of mankind. Sources: Les tapisseries Flamandes au château du Wawel à Cracovie, Fonds Mercator, Anvers/Belgium-1972. Les routes de la Tapisserie en Val de Loire, Edwige Six and Thierry Malty, Hermé, Paris/France-1996. Flemish Tapestry, Iannoo,
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