Posted: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Around 1532–4, Pieter Coecke van Aelst designed a seven-piece tapestry series depicting the seven deadly sins, with one panel per sin: Pride, Avarice, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Anger, and Sloth. The Museum is lucky enough to have in its collection one edition of the Gluttony tapestry, which is now on display in the exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry. Since 2012, the staff of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Textile Conservation has been preparing the tapestry for display by carrying out technical examinations and conservation treatments on the piece.
Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Accompanying the exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry is a fully illustrated catalogue by the same name. This lavish publication, the first comprehensive volume devoted to this Renaissance master since 1966, includes new, exceptionally detailed images of many of the exhibition's tapestries. The man behind most of these, and so many other, beautiful images is Bruce White, award-winning photographer and long-time Met collaborator. Bruce and I recently discussed his thoughts on tapestries, photography, and beauty.
Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
A tapestry designer, painter, draftsman, and publisher of architectural treatises, Pieter Coecke van Aelst was quite literally a Renaissance man. Though he was a master of many media while active from the 1520s until his death in 1550, his contributions have been largely forgotten today. Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, the catalogue accompanying the exhibition currently on view through January 11, 2015, covers much more than just the artist's tapestries and aims to fill the nearly fifty-year gap in the literature on this great artist. I spoke with the catalogue's author, Associate Curator Elizabeth A. H. Cleland, about the book, her interest in Coecke, and why she thinks this Northern Renaissance master has been neglected in recent scholarship.
Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
A stop-action movie documenting the installation of the Museum's Gluttony tapestry in the exhibition
Nineteen extraordinarily large Renaissance tapestries adorn the walls of Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry. These pieces, measuring between twelve and thirty feet in length, weigh an average of one hundred pounds, and they took two weeks to install in the exhibition gallery. During the Renaissance, large tapestries hung from metal hooks and ropes, but today, with an eye toward preserving and protecting these delicate pieces, the Museum's Department of Textile Conservation utilizes a special hanging method that minimizes the risk of damage to the tapestries. The video above captures the process of hanging the Gluttony tapestry (one piece from a seven-piece series depicting the Seven Deadly Sins, designed by Pieter Coecke around 1532–34), now on display in the exhibition.
Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
At its best, tapestry is a mesmerizing art form, but it's an aspect of art history that has been largely overlooked by scholars. If you pick up any standard history of European arts, it's all about painters, sculptors, and architects. This exclusion of tapestries from the narrative of art history, however, is not an accurate reflection of the importance of the medium in shaping and defining the style of some of history's most influential artists. While Raphael and Rubens, for example, are among the most exceptional of painters, their designs for tapestries are every bit as remarkable. The truth is that few artists rarely work with just one medium. During the Renaissance in particular, tapestry was the most important figurative art, collected by the wealthiest and most powerful patrons, and was therefore a medium in which prominent artists strove to work.
The Met addresses one such remarkable artist in the exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, on view October 8, 2014, through January 11, 2015. Coecke was truly a Renaissance master of all disciplines who achieved immense fame in his lifetime, though in the literature the overwhelming genius of his tapestry designs is often bypassed in favor of critique of his panel paintings and drawings. Certainly, to many of his contemporaries, Coecke's most admired works were his tapestry designs. In Grand Design, the breadth of Coecke's work is explored by reuniting nineteen of his most beautiful tapestries with more than thirty of his prints and drawings and seven of his panel paintings.
Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014
Well known for the outstanding storytelling of his cycles of paintings, the Renaissance artist Vittore Carpaccio (1460/66?–1525/26) was also a prolific draftsman. Four of the artist's drawings are part of the Met's collection and currently on view in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery.
Posted: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
In the world of tapestry, it's hip to be square—or rectangular, for that matter. Why, you ask? The answer is quite simple: borders.
You might have noticed that a decorative, tapestry-woven strip traces the edges of many tapestries, which is referred to as the border. While the border is very much a part of the physical tapestry itself, it often has a personality all its own. And, while some border designs were reused on multiple sets of unrelated tapestries, these ornamental edges can still be thought of as something like a thumbprint, a distinguishing characteristic that is apparent only upon close inspection.