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The Bridal Chamber of Herse, from a set of eight tapestries depicting the Story of Mercury and Herse

Design attributed to Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona (Italian, active 1540–52)

After a print by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (Italian, Parma or Verona ca. 1500/1505–1565 Krakow (?)) : Marriage of Alexander & Roxana, after Raphael
Border design attributed to Giovanni Francesco Penni (Italian, Florence ca. 1496–after 1528 Naples) (from the set of the "Acts of the Apostles")
Weaving workshop directed by Willem de Pannemaker (Flemish, active Brussels, 1535–78, died 1581)
ca. 1550
Flemish, Brussels
Wool, silk, silver, silver-gilt thread (20–22 warps per in., 8–9 per cm)
weight confirmed, includes tube: 14 ft. 4 in. × 17 ft. 9 in., 173 lb. (436.9 × 541 cm, 78.5 kg)
Credit Line:
Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The story of the love affair between the god Mercury, son and messenger of Jupiter, and Herse, one of the three daughters of King Cecrops of Athens, is told in Book 2 of Ovid's Metamorphoses; the particular scene depicted in The Bridal Chamber of Herse never actually takes place but instead is a vision which Envy conjures up in the imagination of Herse's sister Aglauros.

    The tapestry design has recently been attributed to Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona. Basing his composition and the figure of Herse on Caraglio's print after Raphael's Marriage of Alexander and Roxana, the designer has created a palpable moment: Mercury steps from his sandals as he rushes forward toward his beloved; cupids remove his cloak, draw back the bed hangings, and take off a modest Herse's slipper.

    The borders are thematically unrelated to the main scene. The side figures, representing the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity and the Cardinal Virtue of Justice, are copied from designs first used for one of Raphael's Acts of the Apostles tapestries; in the lower border, the figures of Love, Fortitude, Temperance, and Diligence are based on another source.

    Woven in Brussels in the preeminent tapestry workshop of Willem de Pannemaker (whose mark appears in the lower right corner), the tapestry demonstrates its weavers' virtuosity in depicting the details of the lush interior, replete with elaborately patterned wall hangings and bed furnishings

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Lower right guard: Weaver's mark of Willem de Pannemaker in gold thread

    Marking: (on lower border) Brussels mark of gold thread with red shield

  • Provenance

    Duke of Lerma, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas ; II Duke of Lerma, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas ; Duchess of Medinaceli, Catalina de Aragón ; De La Cerda family, Dukes of Medinaceli, Spain (since the 16th century, possibly) ; Duchess of Denia (by descent, from 1873–1903) ; Heirs of De La Cerda family, Dukes of Medinaceli, Spain (by descent) ; Duke of Lerma, Fernando María Fernández de Córdoba ; [ Heilbronner Gallery ; sold to Jacques Seligmann ] ; [ Jacques Seligmann ; sold to Mr. Blumenthal ] ; George and Florence Blumenthal

  • See also