The Triumph of Fame over Death
- ca. 1500–1530
- South Netherlandish
- Wool warp; wool and silk wefts
- Overall: 144 x 128 in. (365.8 x 325.1 cm)
- Credit Line:
- Bequest of George D. Pratt, 1935
- Accession Number:
A team of white elephants pulls a chariot in which the winged figure of Fame rides. Dressed in brocade and ostrich feathers, she sounds a trumpet, heralding the appearance of four famous men: two philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and two rulers, Alexander the Great, on the far side, and Charlemagne. Alexander bears the golden scepter topped with a hand and other emblems of the kings of France; Charlemagne wears the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor but also the fleur-de-lys of France. Female figures symbolizing Death are trampled underfoot.
The theme derives from The Triumphs (I Trionfi), by the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch. By about 1500, it had been translated into French for King Louis XII and illustrated on royal tapestries.
This example is one of a series from the château de Septmonts, the residence of the bishops of Soissons. Bishop Symphorien de Bullioud, who was familiar with Italian culture from his diplomatic missions to Rome and Milan for Louis XII, probably commissioned the series.
The tapestry has been cut at the top, and the single remaining line of the inscription "By her power as a lady of consequence" relates to the complicated Triumph metaphor.