Pieter Coecke van Aelst (Netherlandish, 1502–1550). Story of Creation: God's Anger after the Fall tapestry (detail), 1548. Woven by Jan de Kempeneer (Flemish, active 1540–56). Wool, silk and gilt metallic thread

Detail of Eve, from God Accuses Adam and Eve after the Fall tapestry in a set of The Story of Creation. Design attributed to Pieter Coecke van Aelst, ca. 1548. Woven under the direction of Jan de Kempeneer and Frans Ghieteels, Brussels, completed by 1551. Wool, silk, and silver- and silver-gilt-wrapped threads. Florence Instituti Museale della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino (Arazzi 1912–25, 17). Photograph by Bruce White

"Thread by thread, he made tapestries breathe with a brilliant new life."—New York Times

"Stupefying"—The New Yorker

The exhibition is made possible by the Siebold Stichting Foundation and Fukushima Medical University.

Siebold | Stichting / FoundationFukushima Medical University

Additional support is provided by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The Hochberg Foundation Trust.

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Exhibition Objects

Featured Media

Grand Design

Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry

October 8, 2014–January 11, 2015


Exhibition Programs (PDF)

Purchase advance tickets to avoid waiting in admission lines. Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

This international loan exhibition explores the achievements of the great northern Renaissance master Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550). As the impressive body of his surviving drawings makes clear, Coecke was a master designer, devising projects across media, from tapestry series, to panel paintings, prints, stained glass, and goldsmith's work. The exhibition unites nineteen of the grand tapestries he designed, woven in the great workshops of Brussels for collectors from Emperor Charles V, France's François Ier, and Henry VIII of England, to Cosimo de Medici, juxtaposed with a selection of his panel paintings, including a monumental triptych, and more than thirty drawings and prints. Coecke was also the translator and editor of influential Italian architectural treatises that are included in the exhibition. In the midst of this productivity, Coecke also traveled extensively, and among the exhibits is the fascinating woodcut frieze he designed, over fourteen feet in length, recording his experiences in Constantinople.

Accompanied by an Audio Guide

Related Installation

This exhibition is complemented by the installation Examining Opulence: A Set of Renaissance Tapestry Cushions (August 4, 2014–January 18, 2015).

Exhibition Catalogue

Catalogue cover

This lavish publication celebrates Coecke as one of the great artists of the sixteenth century.

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From the Blog

The Clock Strikes Midnight for Grand Design
Posted on January 6, 2015 by Elizabeth Cleland
Four Drawings by Coecke: Before and After
Posted on December 30, 2014 by Stijn Alsteens
Curatorial Conversations: Maryan Ainsworth on Coecke's Panel Paintings
Posted on December 23, 2014 by Sarah Mallory