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Hidden Doors and Secret Drawers: Furniture by the Roentgens


The Triumph of Fame

ca. 1502–4
Flemish, probably Brussels
Wool, silk
Overall: 141 1/2 x 132 in. (359.4 x 335.3 cm) Slat: 130 ¾” x 2 ½” x ¾”; Velcro/webbing, security straps
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1998
Accession Number:
  • Description

    One of the finest early Renaissance tapestries to have appeared on the market in the twentieth century, this piece is extraordinary for its condition, color, and harmonious composition. Fame stands reading at a lectern, surrounded by writers whose works immortalized the deeds of the ancients. His triumph over death is represented by the three Fates beneath his feet while above, Atropos, the Fate who cuts the thread of life, appears again, flying toward the mouth of Hell. Below, a rich carpet of flowers—some in blossom, some gone to seed—echoes the theme of mortality, and the orb in Fame's hand, crowned with a cross, places the subject in a distinctly Christian context. Based in part on Petrarch's poem I Trionfi, the tapestry belonged to a set of six representing the triumphs of Love, Chastity, Death, Fame, Time, and Religion. The set is the earliest known treatment of the theme in tapestry. Documented in a Spanish ducal collection in the late nineteenth century, our tapestry corresponds exactly with one in a set purchased in 1504 by Isabel, queen of Castile and Aragon.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: (on a banderole above Fame) VETER[UM].SIC.ACTA.PER.FAMA[M].FU[ER]UNT.REDACTA
    [Thus the deeds of the ancients were immortalized by Fame]

  • Provenance

    Marquis de Castro Serna ; [ sale, Christie's, London , June 14, 1993, lot 178; sold to Bernard Blondeel ] ; Bernard Blondeel (from 1993)

  • See also