The Hunts of Maximilian
The Hunts of Maximilian
The Hunts of Maximilian


The Hunts of Maximilien
Period: XVIIth century
Dimensions : 330 x 490 cm ; 11 x 16 ft
Manufacture: Brussels (Belgium)
Provenance :  Louis XIV

Condition report : exceptional and rare quality part because of its provenance

Origin: Private collection

Signed on the lower right L.CROIX.P

This tapestry bears the inventory number on the back of the tapestry :
No. 187 / Entref.P. / A.The B.CH.N ° 172 / course on 3au9 / 16.6.P.


Maximilian Hunts (1704-1706)

This is a part of the tapestry of Hunts of Maximilian symbolizing the month of November and representating a hunting banquet, according to Bernard van Orley, by Jean de la Croix (father) Bernard van Orley: Painter of religious subjects and portraits, author of cartoons for tapestries and stained glass, Bernard van Orley is the son of the painter Valentin van Orley; born before 1490. He learned in his father's workshop. He soon has a good reputation, he became court painter of Margaret of Austria on the 23rd of May 1518. In August 1520, he received with pomp A. Dürer; this meeting certainly had a decisive influence on the evolution of his painting.

Gifted with a talent as a storyteller and designer, Bernard van Orley made figure of innovative, reconciling harmoniously Flemish tradition and new influences of the Renaissance - mainly those of Dürer and Raphael. He gave the full measure of his talent to the art of tapestry. We attribute to Van Orley - usually on the basis of stylistic considerations - a very large number of pieces woven in Brussels workshops. For exemple ; "Legend of Notre Dame du Sablon" (1518) commissioned by François Taxi for this funerary chapel in the Sablon church. 1530, Henry III of Nassau commanded him a series showing the "Genealogy of the House of Nassau." The "Hunts of Maximilian" (Paris, Louvre), twelve pieces of 1528-1523 are considered as masterpieces.

Gobelins: Since 1662, when Colbert decided to bring together in one place the Parisian workshops tapestry weaving and those installed in Maincy by Fouquet, the Gobelins has continued to play a very important role in the history of the tapestry.

Charles le Brun, first painter of Louis XIV, is the first director. It installs in the Gobelins not only painters and upholsterers but still goldsmiths, smelters, engravers and woodworkers. Among the most famous tapestries include the Elements, the Saisons, History of Alexander, History of the King, after Le Brun who also looms after Raphael: Constantin History and after Poussin with the History of Moses. Under the direction of Louvois, Coypel provides models as Triumphs of the Gods, and according to Albert Eckhout, the Hanging of India.

The "Surroundings" corresponded to a Gobelins trendy invention of encadremens with a very rich flowers and ornaments, the center of which is placed a subject. The workshop also continued to build in the tradition of great hangings of religious inspiration, historical or mythological.

Maximilian hunts: The tapestry is part of a royal command executed between 1704 and 1706 the Gobelins for Louis XIV. This tapestry illustrates the month of November, the month of Sagittarius, taken from the hanging Hunts of Maximilian, also known as the Belles Chasses de Guise. This suite of twelve allegorical tapestries depicting hunting scenes was designed originally by Bernard van Orley between 1528 and 1533. The scenes take place in the Soignes forest hunting ground for emperors near Brussels.

This first series made for Charles V and Mary of Hungary in 1589 is mentioned in the inventory of Henri de Lorraine, Duke of Guise. It was preserved in the Guise hotel until 1654. Colbert organized its purchase by Louis XIV. It was registered under number 32.

A new version commissioned in 1704 and completed in 1708 with twelve tapestries of windows was woven in the workshops of Etienne le Blond and Jean de la Croix. In 1789, the suite was divided. Five large ones were placed at Fontainebleau. Three others and three between-windows, one of which is this tapestry, was made to Crown Furniture Repository.

The tapestry is a hunting banquet scene in the heart of a forest. In the foreground we can see a makeshift table on which is placed a mat and trays around which noble lords richly dressed are preparing to eat. Around them are busy servants who bring dishes. They are distinguished from other characters in the scene by the white cloth they wear on the arm or around the neck.

In the background, on the right two men are making a fire, one picks up the wood. A second table is set around which weapon characters are also preparing to eat.

The border of the tapestry is richly decorated with motifs of laurel and winding flowers and birds and fruits, the upper part is decorated with a medallion symbolizing the sign of Sagittarius, the lower frieze adorned with only newts in monochrome.


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