Tapestry depicting The Denial of Saint Peter

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C. 1580 - 1620
Wool, silk

C.A. Burgers, Geweven boeket, Amsterdam 1972, p. 26.

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Made in the Northern Netherlands, probably Delft, around 1580-1620.The upper part of the tapestry is decorated with grotteschi, flowers, fruit, a vase and two parrots. The lower half is woven with a large oval cartouche depicting ‘The Denial of Saint Peter’ from the New Testament. Saint Petrus is depicted surrounded by a group of soldiers and the female servant of the high priest. On the background we see the rooster seated in the window. Next to the rooster Saint Petrus is depicted again, walking away from the crowd while crying. The tapestry has a border composed of small cartouches with flowers and two personifications. On the left Fortitude and on the right Prudence.

All four canonical gospels recount that, during the Last Supper, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him three times before the following cock crow. The first denial took place when a female servant of the high priest spotted Peter, saying that he had been with Jesus. Peter denied and the rooster crowed for the first time. Only Luke and John mention a fire by which Peter was warming himself. The second denial followed when the same servant girl told the bystanders he was a follower of Jesus. And the rooster cried again. At this point Peter remembered what Jesus had told him during the Last Supper. The third denial came when Peter’s Galilean accent was taken as proof that he was indeed a disciple of Jesus. And again Peter denied he had anything to do with Jesus. At this point he walked away from the fire and the soldiers, crying over his betrayal.

This tapestry can be compared to a tapestry in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, that has a similar division of a symmetrical upper part with grotteschi, flowers and fruit and a lower oval cartouche enclosing a Biblical scene, in this case depicting the scene of Pharisees bring a woman accused of adultery before Christ. For more information, see http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.23593. The Rijksmuseum tapestry is attributed to Francois Spiering or Aert Spiering.




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