Monday, November 03, 2008

The Awesome Tapestries

Flemish, c. 1540

I admit that I wasn't sure
I would like this stuff,
being one of the many
who have
"viewed tapestries as mere copies of paintings
or as little more than interior furnishings" (A.I.C. website)

design by Charles Le Brun,
c. 1710

But when I actually entered the galleries,
where these enormous things covered every wall,
from floor to 16' foot ceiling,
I was blown away.

Imagine what it must have been like
to grow up living
in such a magical world.

France or Flanders, c. 1500

I feel in love with the
Unicorn Tapestries"
about 40 years ago,
but only just realized
that they were no older
than the piece shown above.

Both were made in 1500,
in the midst of the high Renaissance,
during the lifetime of Durer and Raphael.

So ... I guess this style
was somewhat retro for its time.

Design by Justus Van Egmont,
c. 1680

Above is part of a 14 piece cycle
telling the story of Caesar and Cleopatra,
and it's just about as wild and excessive
as it can be.

All these figures are life size,
and they really seem to be
tumbling out of their frames
and into the room.

Imagine being completely
surrounded by them.

Flemish, c. 1535

Flemish, design by Charles Poerson,
c. 1650-75

I wish I could have shot close-up pictures
of the details,
because all of them are so rich,
down to each thread.

This one -- with it big red sash --
had the most dramatic composition

Design by Guy-Louis Vernansal,
c. 1720

I can't imagine why anyone
who could afford it
wouldn't want such a thing
in their parlor

Switzerland, c. 1495

What sweet young lovers!
(both tall and blond -- hmmm ---
that reminds me of some people I know)

The Gobelin ones
made for the Sun King
are so enjoyable.

I feel royal just looking at them.

This genre scene
is remarkable
because -- being so large --
the viewer seems to be one of the crowd.

excessive and silly?

O.K. - guilty --

this one belongs in the bedroom

This looks so much
like the kind of thing
my father would have designed
(on his computer, of course,
while listening to
Handel operas booming out
from the loudspeakers in the studio)

The sad part -- is that
in 2 months
these things go back
into the basement of the museum,
and since they're only shown
about once/century,
and I will never see them again.

Why can't they be used to
decorate a small concert hall
devoted to the performance
of Baroque music ?

they do make me a bit woozy,
since woven lines are never quite straight.

Maybe I couldn't live with them
all the time,
but only on special occasions


Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful. of course the one to see is the one at palazzo strozzi, firenze, on till jan:
but dont bother with the link, it is italian, it has no reproductions of art, only photo ops and trinkets for sale. see the review in the Economist though (nov 1st issue, page 86). some of the tapestries may be the valois tapestries frances yates wrote about. btw, makes you wonder if this show is part of some joint tapestry project -- perhaps related to an upcoming christie's auction?
Sir G

November 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

er.. there are a few reps after all

November 09, 2008  

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