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Tapestry

Tapestry

Inv. Nr: CE2/00734

This Flemish tapestry, woven on a vertical loom, is made of wool and silk. The central scene has been bordered by a frame of greenery, which is probably not the original. The tapestry represents a triumphant scene where two trumpeters announce the arrival of a victorious personage. Behind them, a soldier holds the reins of the horse attached to the chariot while another holds up a banner. The banner bears the abbreviation of the roman phrase ‘SPQR’, meaning ‘Senatus Populusque Romanus (o romae)’, which is translated as ‘The Senate and People of Rome’. In the chariot, we see a Roman figure with a sceptre and a laurel wreath, which symbolizes victory. Behind them follow prisoners of war such as a boy, a man and a woman.

Tapestries were hung up on walls in order to decorate grand rooms but they equally served as protection from the cold. Church and cathedral interiors were decorated with tapestries on a religious theme for special celebrations.

Brussels was one of the main centres in Europe for the production of tapestries from vertical and floor looms. Brussels’ reputation dates from the end of the 15th Century, although at this time production was not as renowned as other places in the Flanders region or France. It became more famous in the 16th Century when, towards 1530, Pope Leon X commissioned Pieter Van Aelst to weave the ‘Raphael Cartoons’, depicting scenes from the ‘Acts of the Apostles’, into tapestries. Artists used to prepare the design for tapestries on what was known as a ‘cartoon’, that tapestry weavers later reproduced tapestries. In fact, from this moment artists came to play a very important role. In the 17th century, a major boost for the Brussels workshops was mainly owed to cartoons by Peter Paul Rubens and his disciple Jacob Jordaens. The quality once again dropped and the reputation as tapestry production centre passed to Paris, where Jean-Baptiste Colbert nationalized the Gobelins Manufactory in 1662.

Piece displayed in the Smoking Room, first floor.

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