The Destruction of the Children of Niobe from a set of The Horses
Probably made at Mortlake Tapestry Manufactory (British, 1619–1703)
British, probably Mortlake
Wool, silk (16-19 warps per inch, 6-7 per cm.)
Overall: 152 × 232 (386.1 × 589.3 cm)
Gift of Christian A. Zabriskie, 1936
Not on view
This tapestry depicts the gods Apollo and Diana killing the children of Niobe as a punishment for the affront that Niobe had caused their mother, Latona. The set from which this panel derived was known as "The Horses" because the mythological subjects were a thinly veiled pretext to depict a sequence of splendid horses in dynamic action. The designs were created by Francis Cleyn, a native of Rostock who worked at the Danish court before traveling to England in the early 1620s. He was appointed official designer to the Mortlake tapestry works in 1625, and during the following decade provided a sequence of new design series, including "The Horses." Two high-quality weavings of this subject were provided to Charles I before 1637, of which only one fragment survives (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). Following the Civil War, the Mortlake works continued to weave from Cleyn's designs, but these later weavings lacked the quality of materials and skilled craftsmanship that characterized earlier production.
This set was woven sometime in the 1650s or 1660s for Henry Mordaunt, second earl of Peterborough, whose arms appear in the upper border, along with those of his wife, Penelope O'Brien.
Henry Mordaunt (until 1697) ; Duchess of Norfolk (daughter of Henry Mordaunt) (until 1705) ; Sir John Germaine (1705–18) ; Widow of Sir John Germaine (by descent; 1718–69) ; Lord George Sackville (1769–85) ; Duke of Dorset (son of Lord George Sackville) (by descent; 1785–1848) ; Mrs. William Bruce Stopford (by descent; 1848–1908) ; Colonel S. G. Stopford Sackville (by descent; until 1926) ; [ Christie's, London , March 11, 1920, no. 110; sold to Souhami ] ; [ Souhami (from 1920) ] ; Georges Spetz (until 1925; Spetz sale, American Art Galleries, New York, January 14–17, 1925, nos. 836-37); [ Dalva Brothers, Inc. , New York, 1936 ] ; Christian A. Zabriskie (until 1936; to MMA)