Designer: Designed by Karel van Mander I (Netherlandish, Meulebeke 1548–1606 Amsterdam)
Maker: Weaving workshop directed by Frans Spiering (Flemish, 1551–ca. 1630)
Date: ca. 1590–95
Culture: Dutch, Delft
Medium: Wool and silk (8-9 warp per cm)
Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): H. 139 x W. 159 1/4 in. (353.1 x 404.5 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Walter and Leonore Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Fund, 2006
Accession Number: 2006.36
This tapestry depicts scenes from Amadis of Gaul, a chivalric romance that enjoyed great popularity in European court circles in the late sixteenth century. Amadis, a knight from Gaul, has fallen in love with Oriane, daughter of the King of England, but she and the "Damsel of Denmark" have been kidnapped by the king's enemy, Arcalaus. Here we see Oriane's rescue. Toward the center of the scene Amadis encounters the army of Arcalaus and defeats each of his soldiers before finally confronting and killing Arcalaus. In the foreground, Amadis and Oriane are re-united.
Woven from a design by Karel van Mander I, the tapestry is a rare example of late sixteenth-century Dutch production. It was made in the Delft workshop of the merchant-weaver Frans Spiering (ca. 1550–1620) who had relocated from Antwerp because of the religious turmoil of the era. The Spiering enterprise enjoyed great success between 1590 and 1620, providing high-quality tapestries to the Protestant courts of northern Europe who were no longer able to buy tapestries from Brussels, the traditional source of high-quality tapestries. Spiering seems to have enjoyed the unusual privilege of being able to use the coveted "BB" symbol of Brussels' production, even though he was not working in that town.
Spiering's tapestries had a high silk content, rendering them especially vulnerable to light damage. This tapestry is remarkable for the intensity and richness of its color.