Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tapestry in France

Hospices de Beaune, a former almshouse of the 15th century, is now a museum, one of the buildings in a complex that has grown since its early beginning.
Although the Hundred Years War officially ended with the Treaty of Arras in 1435, massacres continued, initiated by roving bands of misfits who roamed the countryside.
Burgundy was then rules by Philip the Good. His Chancellor, Nicolas Rolin, alarmed by the plight of the people in Beaune, decided to create a hospital for the destitute.
Together with his wife, Guigone de Salins, they opened the doors and admitted the first patient in January of 1452. Even now, patients are still being treated there, although in modern medical facilities on the grounds.
Guigone de Salins, the Chancellor’s wife and foundress of the hospital, commissioned 140 square meters of tapestries for the chapel and to cover the beds of the main sickroom. One of these is seen in the picture to the right. These tapestries from the 15th century are still in the old hospital, and three of them are exhibited in the museum. Grateful patients and families in neighboring villages have contributed gifts through the centuries, and the Hospices de Beaune has grown into a Burgundian institution welcoming visitors by the thousands to the museum.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Valois tapestries

As evident in my web design, I am fond of tapestries, and sat for a few hours to look at the Bayeux Tapestries in that dimly lit, cold room in France. I guess others have done the same thing, as there are bleachers to sit on while taking in the enormity of all that art.
This tapestry, adjacent, is part of the Valois Tapestries, one of a series of eight tapestries depicting events in the French court during the 16th century. It was possibly owned at one time by Catherine de’Medici, but was not listed as a possession in the inventory of her belongings after her death.
The tapestry was based on designs by Antoine Caron, a 15th c. artist, and a second artist, possibly Lucas de Heere, who altered Caron's designs. Some historians believe that the presence of Turks alongside the Huguenots (Calvinists, or French protestants), indicates that both groups were considered to be infidels by the Valois rulers. This tapestry depicts the meeting of the Valois and Habsburg courts at Bayonne. The whale is spouting red wine.