April from a set of The Months of Lucas

Various artists/makers

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 549

This tapestry was part of a set of twelve celebrating courtly pastimes, each dedicated to a month of the year. Here, courtiers enjoy the mild mid-spring weather of April; they venture out of the castle to go boating, gather flowers, and make music with a recorder, a lute and a dulcimer. In contrast with these leisurely dalliances, a shepherd leading his flock to the fields and a maid milking toward the left hint at busy agricultural life reawakening after atrophied winter. October, from the same series, is on display nearby.

Though woven in eighteenth-century Paris, these hangings were designed after a sixteenth-century Netherlandish tapestry set (now lost) in the French royal collection. The resulting works winningly combine a Renaissance sensibility in subject matter, compositional style, and clothing fashions with a lush Rococo border, a rainbow palette, and virtuosi weaving techniques more typical of 1730s France.

April from a set of The Months of Lucas, Master of the Months of Lucas (Netherlandish, active about 1535), Wool, silk (20-21 warps per inch, 8-9 per cm.), French, Paris

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