Contents

P.22 Tapestries

Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, CV/1, Danaë (Fig.P.22, IV S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, IV S,Tapestry, b; Fig.P.22, IV S,Tapestry, c; Fig.P.22, IV S,Tapestry, d);

CV/2, The Death of Adonis (Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, bFig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, c; Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, d; Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, e; Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, f; Fig.P.22, III S,Tapestry, g);

CV/3, The Combat of Centaurs and Lapiths (Fig.P.22 I S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22 I S,Tapestry, b; Fig.P.22 I S,Tapestry, c; Fig.P.22 I S,Tapestry, d);

CV/4, Cleobis and Biton (Fig.P.22, V S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, V S,Tapestry, b; Fig.P.22, V S,Tapestry, c; Fig.P.22, V S,Tapestry, d; Fig.P.22, V S, Tapestry, e);

CV/5, The Loss of Perpetual Youth (Fig.P.22, II S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, II S,Tapestry, b);

CV/6, The Unity of the State (Fig.P.22, VI S,Tapestry, a; Fig.P.22, VI S,Tapestry, b; Fig.P.22, VI S,Tapestry, c).

Warp, wool, 8 threads per centimeter; woof, silk, wool, gold, and silver; for the colors, see above and the first document below.  Some of the blacks would seem to be oxidized silver thread.  For their measurements, see above.  The early restorations of the tapestries are discussed in Jestaz, 1978, but, as reported to me by Dr. Rotraud Bauer, the extensive replacements that Jestaz recognized are not indicated by the appearance of the backs of the tapestries.  The tapestries are in excellent condition except for the deteriorated silk of the parts reproducing the monochrome stuccoes, including the silk of earlier restorations (see Jestaz on the late seventeenth century restorations of Jean Trechet).  Dr. Bauer suggested that this may be due to the dyes that were used.  This is also the case with the very dark browns of the central picture of the Combat of Centaurs and Lapiths that have deteriorated.  The colored parts have never been restored except for the replacements of the Royal F by an I (for the future Joseph I of Austria probably; on which see Jestaz) and of the fleurs-de-lis by other stylized flowers, as indicated above.  Four tapestries have repairs above the salamander suggesting that something has been removed (Pressouyre suggested a crown), although nothing is in these places in the gallery (see above).  The Death of Adonis was restored in 1984-1985; the Cleobis and Biton in 1986-1987.

TAPESTRY DOCUMENTS

The earliest known document regarding the making of these tapestries is a payment for the purchase of gold, silver, and silk thread (blue, green, yellow, orange, white, and several shades of gray) in Paris for the weaving of the tapestries in a workshop at Fontainebleau.

Paris, Archives Nationals, Minutier central, LIV, 13 (Grodecki, 1976-1977, 215; Schneebalg-Perelman, 1982, 277-278, no. 2).  16 February 1540 (modern style):

“Honnorable homme Jehan Lannes, marchant de soye demourant à Paris, confesse avoir receu comptant de Me Nicolas Picart, notaire et secretaire du Roy nostre Sire et par luy commis à tenir le compte et faire le paiement des achaptz, facons, ouvrages, rebilliaiges, voictures et autres despenses de meubles servans à l′enmesnaigement de son chasteau et maison de Fontainebleau, la somme de six vingtz dix neuf livres tournois en monnaiye de XII mains, lyardz et doubles à luy ordonnée par messire Philibert Babou, chevalier, sieur de la Bourdaisière, conseiller dud. Seigneur et commissaire par luy ordonné et depputé sur le faict de ses meubles, pour son paiement de son fil d’or, d’argent et soyes fines cy après declairées, par luy fourniz et livrez pour servir à faire les tappisseries que le Roy nostre Sire fait faire aud. Fontainebleau sur la forme et ordonnance des ouvrages de paincture et steuf (sic) estans en la grant gallerie de son chasteau dud. Fontainebleau.

“C’est assavoir, cent solz tournois pour deux onces fil d’or fillé au feur de L solz tournois l’once; autres cent solz tournois pour deux onces fil d’argent fillé aud. pris de L solz tournois l’once, IX livres tournois pour quatre onces d’autre fil d’or fillé moyen au prix de XLV solz tournois l’once, autres IX livres tournois pour quatre onces fil d’argent fillé moyen aud. prix de XLV solz tournois l’once, quinze livres tournois pour trois livres de grosse soye coulleur de bleu au pris de C solz tournois pour chascun livre, quarente livres tournois pour cinq livres d’autre soye de Paris fine coulleur de vert, jaulne et orange au pris de VIII livres tournois la livre et cinquante six livres tournois pour sept livres d’autre soye de Paris fine coulleurz de blant et gris de plusieurs sortes aud. prix de VIII livres tournois la livre, lesd. parties revenans et montans ensemble à lad. premiere somme de VI XX XIX livres tournois. De laquelle somme led. Jehan Dannes, marchant susd., s’est tenu et tient pour content et biers payé et en a quicté et quicte led. Me Nicolas Picart, commis susd. et tous autres. Prom., oblig., renonc., etc. Fait et passé l’an mil VC XXXIX, le lundi XVe jour de febvrier. ”

(Signature of) “d’E. DUNESMES.”

[This document has not been checked.]

Three later documents (RdA, 1972, 41; Pressouyre, 1972, 106, 122, n. 68) refer to the making of tapestry cartoons (called “patrons”) within the period 1 January 1541 (modern style) – 30 September 1550 (but see below).  Paris, Bibl. nat., ms. fr. 11.179, fols. 174v, 178, 184v (Laborde, I, 1877, 190, 195-196, 204).

174v/ “A Claude Badouin, paintre, pour avoir vacqué aux patrons pour servir aux tapisseries dudit Fontainebleau, à raison de 20 liv. par mois.”

178/ “A Claude Badouyn, Lucas Romain, Charles Carmoy, Francisque Cachenemis [“Caccianemici” written above in another hand] et Jean Baptiste Baignequeval, paintres, pour avoir par eux vacqué tant aux patrons de la tapisserie que le Roy fait faire audit Fontainbleau que aux ouvrages de paintures de ladite salle haulte du grande pavillon près l′estang, et audit pavillon estant au coing du clos dudit estang, à raison de 20 liv. à chacun d’eux par mois de l’ordonnance desdits commissaires.”

184v/ “Audit Badouin, paintre, pour avoir vacqué à faire des patrons sur grand papier, suivant certains tableaux estans en la grande gallerie dudit lieu pour servir de patrons à ladite tapisserie, à raison de 20 liv. par mois.”

Within the same manuscript and for the same period is another document (RdA, 1972, 41; Pressouyre, 1972, 106, 122, n. 68) related to the weaving of the tapestries (Laborde, I, 1877, 205).

184v/ “A Jean le Bries, tapissier de haulte lisse, pour avoir vacqué esdits ouvrages de tapisserie de haulte lisse suivant les patrons et ouvrages de stucgs et paintures de la grande gallerie dudit cha(stea)u de Fontainebleau, à raison de 12 liv. 10 s. par mois.

“A Jean Desbouts, tapissier de haulte lisse, pour avoir vacqué esdits ouvrages, à raison de 12 liv. 10 s. par mois.

“A Pierre Philbert, tapissier de haulte lisse, à ladite raison de 12 liv. 10 s. par mois.

“A Pasquier Mailly, tapissier de haulte lisse, à raison de 12 liv. par mois.

“A Jean Textier, tapissier, à raison de 10 liv. par mois.

“A Pierre Blassay, tapissier, idem 10 liv. par mois.

“A Pierre le Bries, tapissier, à raison de 15 liv. par mois.

“A Salomon et Pierre de Herbaines frères, m(aistre)s tapissiers, ayans la garde des tapisseries du Roy du cha(stea)u de Fontainebleau, la somme de 240 liv. pour leur gages de une année à cause de leur dice charge.

“A Jean Marchay, tapissier de haulte lisse, pour avoir vacqué aux ouvrages susdits, à raison de 13 liv. par mois.

“A Nicolas Eustace, tapissier de haulte lisse, à raison de 12 liv. par mois.

“A Nicolas Gaillard, tapissier de haulte lisse, à raison de 12 liv. par mois.

“A Louis de Rocher, tapissier de haulte lisse, à raison de 12 liv. 10 s. par mois.

“A Claude le Pelletier, tapissier de haulte lisse, à raison de 12 liv. 10s. par mois.”

Another document more precisely dated indicates that the tapestries were still being woven in the middle of 1547. (Guiffrey, 1915, 259, no. 537, as Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, M 55, F. fr. 26131, no. 43, confirmed and corrected by Bertrand Jestaz who kindly brought this document to my attention). 30 July 1547 :

A payment “a Pierre Le Bryais tapissier dud. Sr la somme de six cens soixante quinze livres tournois a luy ordonnée sur et tant moin de ce qui luy pourra estre deu pour certaine tapisserye que led. sr luy a commandé fere en ensuyvant les painctures et stucq de la grande gallerye de Fontainebleau dont it n’a encores faict aucun pris avec luy.”

LITERATURE ON THE TAPESTRIES

Baldass, Ludwig, Die Wiener Gobelins-Sammlung, Vienna, VIII, 1920, nos. 155-160.

Dimier, Louis, “La tenture de la Grande Galerie,” La Rénaissance de lArt français, IV, 4, April, 1921, 152-162.

Fenaille, Maurice, État général des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins depuis son origine jusqu’à nos jours, 1600-1900. Les Ateliers parisiens au dix-septième siècle, 1601-1662, Paris, I, 1923, 94-97, Fig. and Pl.

Dimier, 1925, 22, Pls. 51, 52 A-B, 53 A-B.

Dimier, Louis, “La tenture de la Galerie de Fontainebleau,” GdB-A, 5th period, XVI, 2, 1927, 166-170.

Göbel, 1928, I, 37-46, 499-500, II, Pls. 21-24.

Kusenberg, 1931, 60, 120-121, Pls. LXIII-LXV.

Venturi, IX, 5, 1932, 200, 226, 231.

Weigert, 1932 (1962, 91-92, Pl. XXXVI, Danaë), as still on the looms when Francis I died.

Trésors des Musées de Vienne, Paris, Petit Palais, 1947, nos. 215-220.

Barocchi, 1950, 103, n. 5, 130-131, 136, 139-140, 143, 145-146, 155, n. 1, 156, n. 2, Figs. 89, 109, 113, 135, 146, 151.

Lövgren, 1951, with Figs.

Panofsky, 1958, 113, Fig. 1, 126, Fig. 15, 139, Fig. 28, 147, Fig. 34, 157, Fig. 42, 163, Fig. 48, 165, ns. 9-10, 168, n. 30, 170, n. 57, 171, n. 65, 173, n. 85, 174, n. 102.

Thomas, 1959, 40-43, 48-49, 66, 69, with Figs.

Béguin, 1960, 41-42.

Heinz, Dora, Europaïsche Wandteppiche, Ein Handbuch für Sammler and Liebhaber, Braunschweig, 1963, I, 251-256, Fig.

Cheney, 1963, 134.

Shearman, 1967, 191, n. 3.

Lossky, “Cinq dessins,” 1970, 191, 195 (Pressouyre).

Thirion, 1971, 33.

Schneebalg-Perelman, Sophie, “Richesses du garde-meuble parisien de François I. Inventaires inédits de 1542 et 1551,” GdB-A, 6th. period, LXXVIII, 1971, 260, Fig. 5, 264, 295.

Goural, J., and M.-H. Babelon, in EdF, 1972, 338-342, nos. 443-448, with Figs.

Pressouyye, 1972, with Figs., discussed the evidence of the tapestries in relation to the original appearance of the gallery’s decorations.

Béguin and Pressouyre, 1972, 126, 128, 130, 132, 135, 137.

In Béguin, et al, 1972, 4, Béguin suggested they were made to be used “a des fins de prestige dans un nouveau Champ du Drop d’Or précisement,” while Chastel thought them made “pour un cadeau ou présentation extraordinaire.”

Pressouyre, in “Galerie,” RdA, 1972, 100.

Jestaz, 1973, with Figs. (see below).

Raggio, 1974, 73-74.

Grodecki, 1976-1977.

Bertelàr G.G., in Primato del disegno, 1980, 192, no. 455, with Fig.

Schneebalg-Perelman, 1982, 132-133, Fig. 81, 136-137, Fig. 83, 139-154, and Figs., including large Color Pls, 277-278, as possibly finished in 1544.

Lévêque, 1984, 248, 250-252, Figs.

Carroll, 1987, 11, 246-249, no. 77, with Color Pl. (Death of Adonis), 262-264, no. 82, with Color Pl. (Cleobis and Biton).

E. Hevers, in Zauber der Medusa, 1987, 130-131, Color Pls., 141, nos. I, 1 and I, 2.

Franklin, 1988, 323, as woven during Rosso’s lifetime, and in many ways giving a better idea of Rosso’s color and invention than the gallery in its present state.

Ciardi and Mugnaini, 1991, 140.

Scalliérez, 1992, 22, following Jestaz, 1973, as possibly ordered by Francis I for Charles V and given to him before the resumption of war in 1542 or after the peace of Crépy of 1544.

Gruber, 1995, with Figs., thought they were probably given to the Hapsburgs by Charles IX, or by Henri II, their differences from what appears in the gallery pointing to a personal intepretation of Claude Bedouin who was responsible for the cartoons, but the color, recalling that of the Sistine Ceiling, indicating the influence of Rosso.

COMMENTARY ON THE TAPESTRIES

Although it was formerly thought that the tapestries were begun after Rosso’s death — he died 14 November 1540 — the document discovered by Grodecki recording the payment for thread on 16 February 1540 for the weaving of them puts the date of the beginning of their creation back at least ten months.  Three later documents, only one of which actually mentions the gallery, refer to the making of the tapestry cartoons (called “patrons”) by Claude Badouin, Luca Penni, Charles Carmoy, Francesco Caccianemici, and Giovanni Batista Bagnacavallo within the period beginning in January 1541 and ending in September 1550.  But the actual period in which they were made is probably well before 1550 because thread for the weaving of the tapestries themselves was already bought in February 1540.  Furthermore, two of the artists who worked on the cartoons, Caccianemici and Bagnacavallo, were named by Vasari (Vasari-Milanesi, V, 171) as having assisted Rosso while Primaticcio, under whom they generally worked, was in Rome, for which he departed in February 1540, returning to France only after Rosso’s death.  Thus their help to Rosso could have been on the making of the cartoons even before the period in which the surviving document indicates their engagement with them.  As Badouin alone is named in two of the documents and named first in the third it is possible that he was in charge of the making of the cartoons.  Within the same period 1541-1550 appears the document concerning the weaving of the tapestries by Jean and Pierre Le Bries and a dozen other weavers.  It is not possible to know how far into this period this recorded work extended.  The document of 30 July 1547 records a payment to Pierre Le Bries for work on these tapestries.  Although there is no indication in it that it is a last payment, following as this payment does just four months after Francis I died it is possible that all the tapestries that were made were completed by this time.  The weaving seems to have been under the direction of Jean and Pierre Le Bries.

Jestaz suggested that the tapestries were ordered by Francis I as a gift to Emperor Charles V, who had been the guest of the French king at Fontainebleau for a few days at the very end of 1539 shortly after the Gallery of Francis I was completed.  This gift would have been given in 1544, according to Jestaz.  But it might well be wondered what the Emperor would do with a set of tapestries the iconography of which was entirely devoted to a man who, albeit his brother-in-law, considered him an adversary, as Gruber also thought.  The origins of the tapestries may have been different (on which, see below).  There is no certain evidence that Charles V ever owned the tapestries, which could only have been his after 1547, or, in fact, when they left France.  There is no sure mention of them again until 1888 when they are recorded in Vienna at the time of their restoration by Trechet.  In 1690 they were referred to as the “six pièces de tapisserie de Charles Quint,” although they were also called “les six pièces de François Ier” (see Jestaz).  Gruber thought it likely that they were given to the Hapsburgs by Charles IX, or by Francis’s son, Henri II.

It can probably be assumed that the original intent was to reproduce the entire gallery; if not all of it, then the entire south side. No record tells how many tapestries were actually made.  But it is interesting that the six tapestries are all from the south side and that the one wall not reproduced is the last one at the west end, the Enlightenment of Francis I.1  This suggests that the series was made beginning with the easternmost wall of the south side and proceeding west, and if not strictly in this sequence, perhaps with something like two or three at a time, depending on how the makers of the cartoons and the weavers worked, and on how much space there was in which to work on the cartoons and on how many looms there were to weave these very large tapestries.  It is improbable that the accidental loss of one of seven tapestries should be the last of the series on the south side of the gallery, and most highly improbable that only this particular sequence of six tapestries is all that survives of a series that included the tapestries of all the walls of the gallery as Dimier thought.  Thus it is likely that only these six were made and that they represent an incompleted project terminated with the death of Francis I.  The payment of 1540 for thread refers to the tapestries as made of the paintings and stuccoes in the gallery without giving any indication that only a part of them is related to this project.  While Badouin at one time is paid for the cartoons “suivant certains tableaux estans en la grands gallerie” this does not mean that only some of the walls were intended to be made into tapestries, as Pressouyre surmised, for this indication is only in relation to a single payment for a certain amount of work done at that particular time.  On the other hand, one should note that the Danaë tapestry with it oval central scene would have been the center in any arrangement of the hanging of the set and it is obvious that there are not enough tapestries to flank it symmetrically.

The document of 16 February 1540 does not necessarily indicate that the cartoons had already been begun, but this is possible and probable, for the payment is for thread that had been delivered to Fontainebleau where the tapestries were woven.  The order for specific quantities of thread of certain specific colors implies that serious thought had already been given to the weaving of the tapestries, and this, of course, would mean also to the making of the cartoons.  Given that the order for the thread would have to have been made some time earlier it is possible that the idea of making the tapestries preceded Charles V’s visit to Fontainebleau.  The procedure of their making may require that this was the case.

As briefly mentioned by Pressouyre and Raggio, the tapestries, while closely related to what appears in the gallery, have characteristics that clearly belong to the tapestries alone.  This dual nature suggests something of their origin.  It is clear from their overall similarity to what is found in the gallery and from their elements of illusion, especially the simulation of monochrome stuccowork with cast shadows and the perspective of the beams of the ceiling, that the tapestries were meant to reproduce what is found in the gallery.  But there are so many differences of detail that it is also clear that the cartoons were not made solely, or even at all, from what is actually in the gallery.  The one piece of cartoon that survives in the Louvre, for the small rectangular Orgy of Votaries of Cybele to the right of the Death of Adonis (see above and Fig.P.22,Copy, Paris, 1581), was not copied from the relief in the gallery.  Nevertheless, they are so similar that they must go back to a common source, and this would be a drawing that was made for the gallery that was then slightly changed when the tapestry cartoon was made.  Of course, it could be suggested that the changes were made when the cartoon was executed from the relief.  But if the intent was to duplicate what was in the gallery then the relief could certainly have been copied precisely.  Another drawing, a copy, in the Ensba in Paris, Masson 2490 (see above and Fig.Masson 2490), shows the right side of the Combat of Centaurs and Lapiths wall.  In it the top of the head and the big toe of the large reclining male nude are visible as they are not in the gallery where they are cut off by the lateral beam.  But they do appear in the tapestry where they illusionistically overlap that depicted beam.  Certain details of the drawing, such as the rosette above the head of the priest-herm, also indicate that it was not derived from the tapestry.  It, then, must go also back to a common source, a drawing made for the gallery which was then adapted for execution in the gallery, and used again for the making of the cartoon for the tapestry.  The Ensba drawing shows the garland at the side hanging free without any indication of the edge of the wall on which it is painted in the gallery.  This is the way the end garlands appear in the tapestries.  In this particular instance details of the drawn garland match some in the related tapestry – an orb-like object in the center and a small boar at the bottom – but the garlands are not entirely alike suggesting again a common source in a drawing that was made for the gallery and utilized in the making of the cartoon.  The relief of Cimon and Pero under the Cleobis and Biton in the gallery is not reproduced in the tapestry but instead another version is copied known from an anoymous etching (see above and E.143) that is derived from a lost drawing.  Furthermore, the putti at the upper left and right of this tapestry do not appear in the gallery but are found, somewhat varied, in Fantuzzi’s etching (E.87) related to this decoration, and this etching does not seem to be derived from the tapestry.  There are also innumerable other changes and elaborations in the tapestries — see especially the many different details of the Death of Adonis and the Danaë, and the slightly different monster in the Loss of Perpetual Youth – that clearly indicate that the tapestries were not meant to be facsimiles of the gallery decorations.

In color, too, the tapestries differ from what appears in the gallery.  Certain of the stucco reliefs and garlands appear colored in the gallery.  But the color of the frescoes are also not followed.  In many areas the “bleached” condition of the frescoes seems not to allow for a clear comparison with what is in the tapestries.  Some correspondences can be found, and in some tapestries more than in others, as in the Combat of Centaurs and Lapiths, the Loss of Perpetual Youth, and the Unity of the State.  But it is never so extensive as to seem that the frescoes were deliberately followed with the intent of complete imitation.  There is some but not much correspondence in the Death of Adonis, but almost none in the Danaë and the Cleobis and Biton.  In general it has to be concluded that the color in the tapestries is largely independent of that of the frescoes.  In the one piece of cartoon that exists there is no color, and while this cartoon is of a scene that is in stucco in the gallery, it is in color in the tapestry.  This makes one wonder if the cartoons were in color at all.  If so, then how was the color prescibed?  By small colored drawings that had been used for the execution of the decorations in the gallery?  By colored drawings made to accompany the cartoons?  By written notes?  Were the colors chosen by the weavers, perhaps after some study of the gallery decorations?  Or were the colors arrived at by a combination of these sources?  It is very possible that some of the decorative patterns in the tapestries were added by the weavers, as in the case of the tapestries made from Raphael’s cartoons two decades earlier.

Raggio suggested that the tapestries may go back to the drawings that Rosso had made for the gallery and that were used by his assistants to execute the stuccos and frescoes.  These, then, would have been used again by Badouin and his associates in the making of the tapestry cartoons.  Such does seem to have been the case, although it does not strike me that the tapestries are consequently closer to Rosso’s intentions than what appears in the gallery, for the tapestries, too, both the cartoons and the tapestries themselves, were executed by others, and, at least the tapestries, largely after Rosso’s death.  However much certain details might strike one as particularly authentic, on the whole the tapestries exhibit a degree of superficial decorativeness that was probably never a part of Rosso’s scheme for the gallery.  What the tapestries do show is an illustionistic intent in places that was meant also for the gallery but that could not be effected there because of the actual changes of media.  Furthermore, the extraordinary preservation of the tapestries creates an impression of opulence that is no longer quite visible in the gallery because of the poor condition of the frescoes.

It is the use of the drawings (and cartoons?) that were made for the gallery in the making of the cartoons of the tapestries that suggests that they were thought of before Charles V visited Fontainebleau late in 1539, for it would seem from the above observations that the great quantity of drawings that were originally made for the gallery were intentionally kept in order to make the tapestry cartoons.  Working directly from what was executed in the gallery would have been a very difficult task, and the tapestries show that this was not the procedure.  The keeping of the drawings stongly suggests that the making of the tapestries was envisioned before the execution of the gallery was completed.  It is not known precisely when a tapestry workshop was established at Fontainebleau, but this seems to have taken place around 1534.2  If, as seems likely, the Petrarch drawing at Christ Church (D.47) is a modello for a tapestry, then it would indicate that already around 1534 Rosso was concerned with tapestry making.  Perhaps he had a role in the establishment of the tapestry workshops at Fontainebleau.  It was also just at this time that the execution of the gallery decorations was begun.  It may, then, have been Rosso’s idea to have them reproduced as tapestries.  It would be unrealistic to imagine that the cartoons for the tapestries were begun before the decorations in the gallery itself were completed.  The cartoons could have been begun in 1539 while the woodwork for the gallery was being cut, carved, installed, and varnished.  The thread paid for in February of 1540 could have been ordered in the autumn of 1539.

As cartoons were still being made after 1 January 1541 it is clear that this initial stage of the project was not completed by the time Rosso died.  The number of cartoons that were made is not known, nor, of course, how many would have been made before Rosso died.  Perhaps tapestry cartoons were made of the entire decoration, or of only the south side.  It is also not known if any of the actual weaving took place before Rosso died.  But it does seem likely that what was woven was completed by the middle of 1547.

Still there remains the question of why the tapestries were made.  They are very large, the same size as the wall areas in the gallery, even slightly larger because of the inclusion of the ceiling beams and of a row of woodwork at the bottom.  If the entire room had been reproduced it would have taken an equally large room in which to hang all the tapestries.  It would also have taken a room with the special dimensions of the gallery to show them properly.  These requirements would seem hardly to have been known to be available to Charles V in any of his residences.  But if made for Francis I’s own use one would like to know where in any of his residences he had the required space for the tapestries.  One may wonder if they were not intended, instead, to hang in a portable structure that could be raised wherever necessary, a transportable banquet hall.  Such an arrangement is something that Francis I – upon Rosso’s suggestion? – might well have envisioned for himself.3  But is is also possible that such an arrangement could have been suggested for their use to Charles V, although, again, why he should want to be surrounded with tapestries that honor Francis I is a difficult question to answer.  The excellent condition of the tapestries and the brilliance of their colors suggest that they were not often used, perhaps because of their size and shape and number.  This might also suggest that their intended use was never actually realized.


1Schneebalg-Perelman, 1982, 147, thought this wall showing the Roi hériosé was deliberately omitted because the set was intended for Charles V.

2 Göbel, 1928, 499, ns. 1-2.

3 As at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520, as suggested by Béguin (Béguin, et al, 1972, 4).  For the use of such sets of tapestries by the Burgundian court, see Jeffrey Chipps Smith, “Portable Propaganda – Tapestries as Princely Metaphors at the Courts of Philip the Good and Charles the Bold,” Art Journal, 48, 2, Summer, 1989, 123-129.