Honor from the series "The Honors"

Design attributed to Bernard van Orley (Netherlandish, Brussels ca. 1492–1541/42 Brussels) and workshop, with collaborators
designed before 1520, woven between 1525 and 1532
Flemish, probably Brussels
Wool and silk (wefts); wool (warps): 6-7 warp threads per cm.
confirmed: 15 ft. 2 1/16 in. × 26 ft. 2 9/16 in. (462.5 × 799 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 2014 Benefit and Director’s Funds, several members of The Chairman's Council Gifts, Brooke Russell Astor Bequest, Ambassador and Mrs. W. L. Lyons Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Richard L. Chilton Jr., and Josephine Jackson Foundation Gifts, 2015
Accession Number:
Not on view
The enthroned and bearded personification of Honor receives the victor's laurel crown from Virtue and Victory. Majesty and Respect sit like handmaidens at Honor's feet, and the most lauded rulers of history, each identified by name, flank his throne; below are ten virtuous women, plucked from mythology, the Bible and more recent apocryphal histories. The central scribe peruses the list of Honor's celebrants, whilst in the foreground an unruly mob of historical and literary protagonists beseige Honor's pavilion.

This tapestry was part of a seven-piece set presenting an allegorical guide to the qualities which a successful ruler should espouse. The set was made for Cardinal Erard de la Marck (1472–1538), Prince-Bishop of Liège, and loyal envoy and financial backer of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Inscription: Names of characters, in Latin, at center, top: VICTUS (probably a misreading at cartoon or weaving stage for VIRTUS- Virtue); MAIESTAS (Majesty); REVER[N]TIA (Respect); VICTORIA (Victory).

Top tier of rulers, inscribed left to right: GODEEREDUS BUHONIUS (Godfrey of Bouillon); S. LODOVICUS (Louis IX of France); CAROL MAGN (Charlemagne); CONSTANTINUS (Emperor Constantine); DAVID (King David); OCTAVIUS (Emperor Augustus); ABRAM (Abraham); ALEXANDER MAGN (Alexander the Great).

Second tier of virtuous females: FLORE[N]TIA ROMITIA (Florence of Rome); PENELOPE (Penelope); SOMRAMIS (Semiramis); HELENA (Empress Helena); HESTER (Esther); DEBORA (the prophet Deborah); SABA (Queen of Sheba); ASIA (the continent Asia, at this time iconographically associated with the spread of Fame).

Mounting the steps to enter Honor’s pavilion are, at the left, SERTORIUS (General Sertorius) and MARCELLA (Consul Marcellus), crowned by DIGNITE (Dignity) and TRIU[M]PH (Triumph); at the right, PHOCAS (Phocias) and PHUS (unidentifiable) welcome two additional unnamed protagonists.

At upper corners: NATURA (Nature); SCRIPTRAS (Scripture).

Amongst the foreground proragonists are: IORAM (Joram), IULIANUS APOSTATA (Julian the Apostate), JEROBOAM (Jereboam), HELENA (Helen of Troy) and PARIS (Paris), TARQUIN (Sextus Tarquinius), MELISA (probably an error due to reweaving of MEDUSA), IEZEBEL (Jezebel), NERO (Emperor Nero), MARCUS ANTONI (Mark Anthony), HOLOFERNES (Holofernes) and SARDANAPALUS (King Sardanapalus)

Three inscriptions in cartouches along the uppermost register of the border: “QUISQUIS UT AD CLARUM STUDIOSUS SCANDAT HONOREM / NATURA ASSIDUIS PROVOCAT ALMA TUBIS” (“Generous nature urges with constant trumpets / Anyone to ascend zealously to glorious Honor”); “CANDIDA QUOS MISIT VIRTUS HONOR ARCE RECEPTANS / LAUREAT AMBITIO QUOS TULIT INDE FUGAT” (“Those whom shining Virtue sent, Honor receives and crowns in the citadel. Those whom Ambition inspired, he makes flee from there”); “SEDULO DOCTA IUBET MODULIS SCRIPTURA DISERTIS / NE QUIS HONORIPAROS TARDET INITRE LARES” (“Scholarly Scriptura ordains with skillful means measures that no one should delay to enter the house of Honor”).
Cardinal Érard de la Marck, Prince-Bishop of Liège (by 1532; to his godson, Robert III de la Marck ; by descent, Robert III de la Marck, Count of Arenberg (to his sister, Countess Marguerite de la Marck) ; by descent, Countess Marguerite de la Marck, Princess of Arenberg (to her son, Robert de Ligne) ; by descent, Robert de Ligne, Prince of Arenberg and Barbançon (sold to his brother, Charles de Ligne) ; Charles de Ligne, Prince of Arenberg, Duke of Aarschot (in 1602; to his son, Philippe Charles) ; by descent to Philippe Charles d'Arenberg, duc d'Aarschot (to his son, Philippe François) ; by descent to Philippe François d' Arenberg, duc d'Aarschot (to his brother Charles-Eugène) ; probably by descent to Charles-Eugène d' Arenberg, duc d'Aarschot ; probably by descent to Philippe-Charles-François d' Arenberg, duc d'Aarschot (to his son, Leopold-Philippe) ; by descent to Leopold-Philippe, Prince and Duke of Arenberg, Duke of Aarschot and Croy ; and his wife, Marie-Françoise Pignatelli, Princess of Bisaccia, Countess of Egmont ; probably by descent through the Duc d’Arenberg, Brussels ; probably by descent to Engelbert-Auguste, Duke of Arenberg, Aarschot and Meppem, Prince of Recklinghausen (to his son, Engelbert-Marie) ; by descent to Engelbert-Marie, Duke of Arenberg, Aarschot and Meppem, Prince of Recklinghausen (until 1946; sold to Wildenstein and Co.) ; [ Wildenstein and Co., Inc. , New York, 1946–2015; sold to MMA ]