Brussels tapestry - second half 17th century

Property from a Midwest Educational Institution


Materials : Wool and silk

Dimensions : 12 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft. 1 in. / 3.81 m. by 4.9 m.

Provenance : Estate of Senator Champ Clark (according to 1968 inventory)

Gift of Dora Donner Ide, by repute

Condition report : Old lining with loops. Later selvage. Good colors of the whole palette. Probably slightly reduced. Some restoration and reweaving in the light silk areas. Some minor losses to silk and some minor splits. Water stain along the right edge of the inner panel. Some areas of inpainting to heighten colors (particularly along the lower border, but not immediately visible). Very fine quality and overall in stable condition, though slightly dry.



The Triumph of Cleopatra is one of eight tapestries from a suite dedicated to the famous Queen of Egypt. A related piece with the identical composition but a less sophisticated border design was woven in Brussels by Jean Le Clerc and Daniel Eggermans, based on cartoons made by the French painter Charles Poerson (1609–1667) and is preserved in the King Baudouin Foundation in Brussels. 

The scene represents Marc Antony and Cleopatra riding at the head of a triumphal procession, but does not obviously refer to a particular historical event. The location is probably intended to be Alexandria, and the soldiers part of Mark Antony’s army. Monuments in flames can be seen in the background. The composition is surrounded by a lavish border of flowers, typical of Brussels tapestries from the 17th century. 

The cartoon was created by the French painter Charles Poerson. Other series featuring historical characters are also attributed to Poerson, notably the stories of Moses, Clovis, Titus and Vespasian.  


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