Tapestry depicting Orpheus
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- Northern Netherlands
- Circa 1640-1660
- Wool, silk
E. Hartkamp - Jonxis & H. Smit, European Tapestries in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 2004, pp. 272 - 291.
V. Woldbye & C.A. Burgers, Geweven boeket, Amsterdam 1971, pp. 16 - 18, 40, 43, 44, cat. no. 7, 10, 11.
See for similar tapestries:
- Stichting Huis Doorn, inv. no. 10385
- Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Brussel, inv. no. 120
Collection J. Ritman, c. 1987-2018
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This woven woollen and silk tapestry was made in the first half of the 17th century in the Northern Netherlands. The central cartouche depicts Orpheus playing music to a group of attentive listening animals, including a lion, a deer and a peacock. The cartouche is surrounded by two garlands of flowers and leaves and four clusters of fruit. Between the multicoloured flowers and fruit are birds, ribbons and distinctive grotesques. This central area is framed by a wide border of symmetrical scrollwork, with flowers and various birds.
According to Greek mythology, Orpheus was a legendary poet, prophet and musician. He played the lute and enchanted people, animals and even stones and trees with his music. Apart from his musical talents, the story of Orpheus, who tries to bring back his wife from the kingdom of the dead but loses her at the last moment, is especially famous. The lute-playing Orpheus is an often-recurring theme in Western art.
From the middle of the sixteenth century and especially after the Fall of Antwerp, a large stream of Flemish immigrants, including many craftsmen, came to the Northern Netherlands. Among these immigrants were a number of tapestry weavers who settled in Middelburg, Delft, Gouda and Schoonhoven, where the rich Flemish weaving tradition blended with the prevailing Northern Netherlandish art tradition. The rare floral tablecloths were mainly made in the workshops in Delft and Gouda, it is likely that this tablecloth also originated in Delft or Gouda. Important ateliers belonged to the families Van der Gucht, Spiering, Schaep, Goossens and De Cracht. The weaving of carpets and rugs has both a technical and an artistic side; based on a sketch by the artist, the weaver made the rug. The sketch on cardboard was often inspired by existing prints. Different carpets have the same and recurring motifs, which may point to the same workshop, the same cardboard or the same example. In the catalogue by Woldbye there are three tapestries that have a very similar design to this one, so it can be assumed that they come from the same workshop.