Lot 32

Exceptional fragment of a tapestry panel from the Royal Manufactory of the city of Brussels (at the time a province of the Spanish Netherlands) from the second half of the 16th century, most probably from a cardboard box by Lucas De HEERE (1534- 1584) for Queen Catherine de Medici. Wool, silk and metal 232 cm x 134 cm Of this hanging only eight panels are known to be in the collections of the Museum of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Our fragment, hitherto unknown, is therefore to be compared with this illustrious hanging. Literature often cites, quite rightly, the eight tapestries devoted to the Valois festivals as the last great witnesses of 16th century Brussels tapestry. They represent several festivals given at the court of Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) and Henri III of France (1574-1589), according to the drawings of Antoine Caron and probably the cartoons of Lucas De HEERE (1534- 1584). A series of portraits of members of the House of France and related families are in the foreground of each tapestry. Some say that they were commissioned by William of Orange as a gift to François d'Anjou, the youngest son of Catherine de Medici, on the occasion of his installation as Duke of Brabant in Antwerp in 1585, but this does not seem to be correct as the latter left Antwerp in February 1584 and died in 1585. It is therefore more likely that this series of hangings was acquired directly by the Queen Mother herself. Then in 1589 they were taken to Florence by Christine de Lorraine, Catherine's granddaughter, on the occasion of her marriage to Grand Duke Ferdinand de Medici. According to the study of the costumes, their dating is around 1575-1582. It is still not known which two workshops are marked on the side borders.