________________________Please do not hesitate to direct all comments, questions, and inquiries to grahamarader@gmail.com_____________________________

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Exceptional Works from the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory


Full catalog available upon request


Le Cheval pommelé ou L'Indien à Cheval\(The Indian on horseback /or The Grey Horse)
From the series Tenture des Indes (Anciennes Indes/Old Indies tapestries)
After a cartoon by Albert Eeckhout
The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory (Manufacture Royale des Gobelins)
Wool and silk.
Woven basse lisse, within the ‘first’ four-sided borders of gold and red alternating acanthus leaf and guilloche bands on a blue ground, with further narrow inner husk and outer red and gold banded borders, with blue outer selvedge.
The reverse with a section of old lining marked in ink with: No 158. INDIENS. 8.P.4. au, 3 au
15ft. 1in. x 11ft. 3in. (approximately 458 x 344 cm)
Woven 1687-89

Provenance: Collection of H. Braquenié, sold 18th May 1897; Collection Carlos de Beistegui, Palazzo Labia, Venice, sold 6-10th April 1964; Private Collection; Collection of Alberto Bruni Tedeschi

References: Maurice Fenaille, Etat général des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours (1600 - 1900). Période Louis XIV (1662 - 1699). Paris 1903, p. 376,  illustrates a weaving from the workshop of De la Croix, 1689, now in the Mobilier National, Paris. The whole series is to be seen in Jean Vittet, Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée, La collection de tapisseries de Louis XIV, Dijon 2010, p. 402 - 407. 
$1,800,000


Le roi porté par deux Maures (The King borne by Two Moors)
From the series Les Anciennes Indes, after a cartoon by Albert Eeckhout
The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory (Manufacture Royale des Gobelins)
Wool and silk.
Woven basse lisse, within the ‘first’ four-sided gold and red acanthus borders on a blue ground, with narrow inner husk and outer red and gold banded borders, with blue outer selvedge
15ft. 4in. x 10ft. 8in. (approximately 467 x 325 cm)
Woven 1687-89

Provenance: Collection of H. Braquenié, sold 18th May 1897; Collection Carlos de Beistegui, Palazzo Labia, Venice, sold 6-10th April 1964; Private Collection; Collection of Alberto Bruni Tedeschi

References: Charissa Bremer-David, "Le Cheval Rayé: A French Tapestry Portraying Dutch Brazil", The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 22, 1994, pp. 21-29. Charissa Bremer-David, French Tapestries & Textiles in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 1997. Maurice Fenaille, Etat général des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins depuis son origine jusqu'à nos jours (1600 - 1900).  Nello Forti Grazzini, "Le Indie Tessili: Arazzi di Malta", FMR (Italian ed.), No. 128, June-July 1998, pp. 37-74 (English ed.: FMR/International, No. 92, June-July 1998, pp. 37-74. Nello Forti Grazzini, "The Striped Horse", in Thomas B. Campbell, ed., Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor, catalogue of the exhibition (held in New York and Madrid, 2008), New York-New Haven-London 2008, cat. 48, pp. 390-97. M. Jarry "The 'Tenture des Indes' in the Palace of the Grand Master of the Order of Malta," The Burlington Magazine No. 666, 1958 pg. 306-11. Gerlinde Klatte, "New Documentation for the "Tenture des Indes" tapestries in Malta," The Burlington Magazine, No. 1300, Vol. CLIII, July 2011 pp. 464-469. Période Louis XIV (1662 - 1699). Paris 1903, p. 376,  illustrates a weaving from the workshop of De la Croix, 1689, now in the Mobilier National, Paris. The whole series is to be seen in Jean Vittet, Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée, La collection de tapisseries de Louis XIV, Dijon 2010, p. 402 - 407.   P.J.P Whitehead, A Portrait of Dutch 17th century Brazil, Animals, Plants and People by the artists of Johann Maurits of Nassau. Amsterdam, Oxford, New York, 1989.
$1,800,000.

These are among the finest and most important Baroque tapestries by the Gobelin manufactory.  Their provenance adds further significance: they were in the home of the parents of Carla Bruni, the wife of the current president of France. The tapestries are from the first of eight editions which Maurits of Nassau referenced when he wrote to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marquis de Pomponne.  In his letter of 1679, he announced his present, that the tapestries would show all the mirabilia of Brazil, so that it would not be necessary to cross the Ocean (Koninklijk Huisarchief, The Hague.) They were last mentioned in the documents in the archives from 1792: "En 1792, cette tenture était au Garde-Meuble" and subsequently taken from Versailles during the French Revolution. These Baroque tapestries are a 'milestone in the history of the European visual discovery and representation of the people, the landscapes, the animals and the plants of the New World' (Grazzini, Report 2009, p. 2), especially Brazil, but also Chile and Africa. The famous scholar Whitehead characterizes them as, "the most famous outcome from the Brazilian pictorial record" (1989, p. 107). Vittet / Brejon de Lavergnée judge them to be: "The most extraordinary creation of the Gobelins in the 17th century” ([…] la plus extraordinaire création des Gobelins au XVIIe siècle) (2010, p. 394). Inspite of some small areas which have been repaired, they are still in outstanding condition.

Dutch artist Albert Eckhout (c. 1610 - c. 1666) established his reputation and career as a painter after joining a Dutch expedition to northeast Brazil between 1637 and 1644. A group of scientists and artists, including the painters Eckhout and Frans Post, as well as the scholars Georg Markgraf and Willem Piso, accompanied the newly appointed Dutch governor-general, Johan Maurits, count of Nassau-Siegen, to document the country's plants, animals, and people. They were among the first to illustrate the natural history of South America.

After they returned to Holland, Maurits, nicknamed "the Brazilian," commissioned Eckhout  to produce a series of paintings showing the wonders of South America.  Probably, the cartoons for the Old-Indies tapestries have been painted by Eckhout around 1647 in Amersfoort, Netherlands, and used by the tapestry maker Maximilaan van der Gucht, Delft, for the weaving of two very early tapestry series for the Elector of Brandenburg and for Maurits of Nassau himself; but all these tapestries have disappeared since then.
               
In 1679 Maurits gave eight large paintings together with some smaller paintings and other valuable objects to Louis XIV. The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory used them as cartoons for a series called Tenture des Indes / Anciennes Indes (Old Indies tapestries).

The cartoons which had already been used, needed some slight repair, but Eckhout's work has not been altered substantially. From 1687 to 1730 eight series and several extra-pieces have been woven, some on low-warp looms, others on high-warp looms. The wall-hangings of the first five series ("Grandes Indes") are higher than those of the last three ("Petites Indes"), which are surrounded by a more elaborate border. The modifications were made by Alexandre François Desportes, who at that occasion took sketches after these cartoons, which are now in Sèvres, Cité de la céramique (formerly Manufacture nationale de Sèvres).

This was a lucky hazard, because in 1735 Desportes was ordered to paint new cartoons after those created by Eckhout. The first cartoon was exposed in the "Salon" in 1737, and in 1740, the first tapestry of the so-called "Nouvelles Indes" ("New Indies tapestry") was put on the looms.

The titles of the eight Old-Indies tapestries are:- Le cheval rayé (The Zebra), Les deux taureaux (The Two Bulls), L'Éléphant ou Le cheval isabelle (The Elephant or The Isabella Horse), Le chasseur indien (The Indian Hunter), Le combat des animaux (The Animal Fight), Le roi porté par deux maures (The King borne by Two Moors), Le cheval pommelé /or L'Indien à cheval (The Indian on horseback /or The Grey Horse) and Les pêcheurs (The Fishermen).

The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory (Manufacture Royale des Gobelins) was responsible for the finest woven tapestries produced in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1662 Jean-Baptiste Colbert, later on Louis XIV's minister of finance, took over the Gobelins manufactory on behalf of the Crown and its official title became Manufacture Royale des Meubles de la Couronne (Royal Manufactory of Furniture to the Crown). The first director, Charles Le Brun, orchestrated numerous craftsmen, including tapestry weavers, painters, bronze-workers, furniture-makers, and gold- and silversmiths, who supplied objects exclusively for the king's palaces or as royal gifts. Only the finest of artisans was employed by the Gobelins. As a result of financial difficulties, the manufactory was forced to close in 1694, reopening in 1699 but only to produce tapestries. Among all the tapestries the set of Tenture des Indes enjoyed the greatest success.

These two tapestries are most important for their unique historical value. They are the last two of eight exemplars from the first of eight Anciennes Indes tapestry series and the only ones which are now accessible for art lovers and historians. The other six exemplars from this series are currently in private ownership. According to Nello Forti Grazzini they “are the most important ancient French tapestries actually offered on sale in the USA, and that they undoubtedly would be worthy of a future public display in a first-rate museum from one side or the other of the Atlantic Ocean.”


Nello Forti Grazzini, Corso Porta Vigentina 1, 20100 Milano, Italy
Tel.: 02/3495603; 3315061016
E-mail: nelloforti@tiscali.it
…………………………………….

Mr. Graham Arader
Arader Gallery
29 East 72nd Street at Madison Avenue
New York   NY 10021
USA

                                                                                                          Milan, September 10, 2009
Dear Mr. Graham Arader,
                As a specialist in tapestry-history, I was entrusted by you with the task of studying two beautiful ancient tapestries entered your collection two years ago: the Indian on Horseback (458 x 344 cm) and the African King carried in a hammock (467 x 325 cm), both finely woven, conserved in good condition, showing astonishing seventeenth-century tableaux vivant of people, animals and plants from South-America (Brazil and Chile) and Africa. I wrote and sent you a long relation on the two pieces: there, everyone interested may find a wide report on these great masterpieces, concerning their iconography and style, their cartoons (painted by the Dutch seventeenth-century painters Eckhout and Post, who had been taken to the Holland colony of North-West Brazil by Johan Maurits Prince of Nassau-Siegen), and the series and specific set of which they are part.
                By the present letter, which, just as my more complete relation, you are free to show those who appreciate your art treasures and like to know more on them, I want to confirm you not only that the two tapestries were produced by the Royal Manufacture of the Gobelins in Paris, and that they are proper elements of the eight-subjects Old Indies series that was produced there by eight "official" weavings and some more "private" re-weavings, between 1687 and 1732, but that their origin may be much better detailed, in a way that lends them an extraordinary historical value, just as it solves a long-living open problem of the history of tapestries.
              In fact, your pieces were part of the first official edition (the so-called editio princeps) of the Old Indies, made up of eight subjects, whose identification among the surviving tapestries was unsure until today. As it is documented, it was made in 1687-88 by Jean de La Croy and Jean Baptiste Mozin at the Gobelins, for king Louis XIV of France, and entered the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne in 1689, where it was inventoried among the chambers made without gold weft, as set n. 158. It left the French Royal collection sometimes after 1793 and passed into private hands. What connects your two tapestries and set n. 158 once in the Garde-Meuble?
- First. Your two pieces, with two others (Animal Combat and Fishermen) from the same set grouped with them from at least 1897 up to 2007 (in the Braquenie collection at Paris; in the De Beistegui collection in Venice; in the Bruni Tedeschi collection in Castagneto Po, near Turin), and with four others (Striped Horse, Two Bulls, Elephant, and Indian Hunter) from the same set too, signalled in 1989 in a private collection in Argentina, form a complete set of the Indies, whose traits (weft quality, measures, orientation of the scenes, borders-design) fit well, and only fit, with the documented characters of the identical first and second editions of the series, both made by De La Croix and Mozin for the Sun-King (also the second edition, made in 1689-90, entered the Garde-Meuble, where was marked as set n. 161).
- Second. An identical eight-pieces set of the Indies as the one just listed, and characterized too by the traits of the first and second editions made, is conserved today  in the Mobilier National of France, at Paris: this one too might have been the editio princeps. But…
- Third. On the reverse of your Indian on Horseback and of two other pieces from the same set, reported sections of old lining (whose existence was unknown up to 2007) remounting up to the time when the tapestries were in the Garde-Meuble, support ink inscriptions that assert their pertinence to set n. 158. For example, the inscription behind the Indian on Horseback , mentioning its set number and title, and the measures of the piece expressed in French aunes, is: "No. 158. INDIENS. 8.P. 4 au. 3 au.".
                So, Mr. Arader, on the basis of the mentioned inscriptions, once they have been correctly explained, you may be proudly sure that your two tapestries and their six companions from the same set, all in private collections, surely proceed from the editio princeps of the Indies once n. 158 in the Garde-Meuble, while the replicated set in the Mobilier National is the re-weaving that followed, once n. 161.
This sounding discovery lends your tapestries, the Indian on Horseback and the African King carried in a Hammock, a special aura added their superb material and formal qualities, and their relevance as works of art and as impressive documents for the history of the European visual exploration and invention of the New World. I firmly believe that your pieces are the most important ancient French tapestries actually offered on sale in the USA, and that they undoubtedly would be worthy of a future public display in a first-rate museum from one side or the other of the Atlantic Ocean.

Yours sincerely                                                                                  Nello Forti Grazzini

--------------
Gerlinde Klatte is an independent art historian who specializes in Baroque tapestries. She is a contributor to the Burlington Magazine. 








No comments:

Post a Comment