Aglauros’s Vision of the Bridal Chamber of Herse, from the Story of Mercury and Herse

Various artists/makers

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 520

This splendid tapestry depicts the seventh, and penultimate, episode in the story of the ill-fated love affair between Herse, a mortal princess from Athens, and Mercury, god of trade, profit and travel. As recounted by the Roman writer Ovid in Book 2 of his narrative poem, The Metamorphoses, Mercury spied Herse participating, as a flower-garlanded virgin, in a festival honoring Minerva, and approached her father’s palace. Mercury petitioned her sister, Aglauros, to help him woo Herse. Stricken with jealousy, Aglauros envisioned in great detail how the union between Mercury and her sister might appear. It is that vision, rather than an actual bridal night, that we see represented here, in an exquisitely sumptuous re-edition of the tapestry series, heavy with precious thread, and woven with a virtuoso display of different surface effects. The final tapestry in the set is displayed near-by.

Aglauros’s Vision of the Bridal Chamber of Herse, from the Story of Mercury and Herse, Design attributed to Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona (Italian, active 1540–52), Wool, silk and precious metal-wrapped threads (20-22 warps per inch, 8-9 warps per cm.), Netherlandish, Brussels

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