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Masterpieces of Tapestry from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century

Masterpieces of Tapestry from the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century

Souchal, Geneviève, with an introduction by Francis Salet
1974
222 pages
146 illustrations
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The present exhibition is one of a series of five worked out in the partnership [between the Metropolitan Museum and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux of France]. The others are: Nineteenth-Century French Drawings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which closed at the Louvre last month and is now on view here; Italian Renaissance Drawings from the Louvre, to be shown at the Metropolitan in October; Impressionism, which will include some forty-five of the greatest paintings in the style and will be seen at the Louvre in September and here in December; and finally, French Painting from David to Delacroix, which is planned to open in Paris in the winter of 1974, followed by showings at the Detroit Institute of Art in the spring of 1975 and the Metropolitan in the summer.

Following its appearance at the Grand Palais in Paris, Masterpieces of Tapestry is presented in New York in association with and under the patronage of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and under the sponsorship of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Heller of New York City. Without the extraordinary aid of the two Endowments and the enlightened generosity of these two art-loving private patrons the exhibition simply would not have been possible here.

As one contemplates such treasures as the enormous tapestry from the Apocalypse series at Angers, the incomparable six pieces of the Lady with the Unicorn from the Cluny Museum (shown for the first—and probably last—time with The Cloisters' Hunt of the Unicorn set), the four wonderful pieces lent us by the Hermitage in Leningrad, the pieces from the Cluny Museum of the David and Bathsheba set, and the famed Winged Stags from the Cathedral of Rouen, it may be worthwhile to note what tapestries themselves are in the broad perspective of history. As early as art is recorded we are aware of man's urge to transform interior walls from simple, mute surfaces into panoramas of triumph, acts of faith, or modes of decorative splendor. From the walls of Lascaux and Altamira to Thera, to the painted stoas of the Acropolis, to the Clubhous of the Cnidians at Delphi, where Polygnotos' scenes of the underworld could once be seen, to the palace of the Macedonian kings at Pella, to Pompeii and Herculaneum and Boscoreale, to Bury St. Edmunds and palaces and castles of the Middle Ages—and indeed even to our own day—man has destroyed the bleak immutability of walls with special artifices, tapestries being not the least of these in more recent times. Because of the tapestry's imperviousness to cold and damp, it was in a sense northern Europe's answer to the fresco of southern lands.

Met Art in Publication

Hector of Troy (?) (from the Heroes Tapestries), Wool warp, wool wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1400–1410
King Arthur (from the Heroes Tapestries), Wool warp, wool wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1400–1410
Tapestry with the Annunciation, Wool warp, wool with a few metallic wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1410–20
The Unicorn Purifies Water (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Unicorn Crosses a Stream (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Unicorn Defends Himself (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Unicorn Surrenders to a Maiden (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Unicorn Surrenders to a Maiden (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
1495–1505
The Hunters Return to the Castle (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Hunters Enter the Woods (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp, wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
The Unicorn Rests in a Garden (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Wool warp with wool, silk, silver, and gilt wefts, French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
French (cartoon)/South Netherlandish (woven)
1495–1505
Lady Holding a Falcon, Wool warp, wool wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1400–1415
Courtiers in a Rose Garden: Two Ladies and Two Gentlemen, Wool warp, wool, silk, and metallic weft yarns, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1440–50
Courtiers in a Rose Garden: A Lady and Two Gentlemen, Wool warp; wool, silk, metallic weft yarns, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1440–50
Huntsman Presenting a Captured Heron to a Lady Falconer, Wool warp;  wool and silk wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1500–1530
Tapestry with Armorial Bearings and Badges of John, Lord Dynham, Wool warp;  wool wefts with a few silk wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1488–1501
The Fall and Redemption of Man, Wool warp, wool, silk, silver and gilt wefts, South Netherlandish
South Netherlandish
ca. 1480–90

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Citation

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Souchal, Geneviève, Richard Oxby, and Francis Salet. 1973. Masterpieces of Tapestry: From the Fourteenth to the Sixteenth Century an Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [1974]. Paris [New York]: Éditions des musées nationaux Metropolitan museum of art.