A French allegorical tapestry. Paris, mid-17th century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
Woven in silks and wools, depicting 'March' from the series 'Les Mois de Lucas', with fishermen in a river by a town, courtly-dressed figures walking across a bridge, within an elaborate border decorated with putti and birds between floral garlands, centred to all four sides with medallions and to the angles with the mask of Venus within a stylised shell, within a blue outer slip; 10 ft. 3 in. x 8 ft. 5 in. (312 cm. x 258 cm.) - - Estimate 40,000 - £60,000. Price Realized £124,250
Notes: ORIGINS OF THE SERIES
This magnificent tapestry is originally from The Seasons of Lucas. The series was probably originally designed by a Flemish artist of the school of Bernaert van Orley in about 1535 although the name, which was erroneously given in the early 17th century, refers to Lucas van Leyden. The series was subsequently woven in Brussels and Bruges, while the Royal Gobelins versions appear to be based on a set of twelve Brussels versions that belonged to Louis XIV, woven circa 1535 and destroyed in 1797 to recuperate the silver and gold-thread in them. The series was first copied in Paris in the mid 17th century and then further altered and 'updated' for the weavings at Gobelins.
The first Gobelins version was probably woven for Colbert and lists the set in the inventory taken after his death in 1683, while the first weaving for King Louis XIV took place in 1688. Most of the twelve Gobelins sets recorded by Fenaille (Etat général des Tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins, Paris, 1903, pp. 337 - 370), remained in the Royal collections while there are some unrecorded private weavings.
Related tapestries from this series are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the Hermitage Museum, Russia (illustrated in N. Birioukova, Les Tapisseries Françaises de la Fin du XVe au XXe Sièle dans les Collections de l'Ermitage, Leningrad, 1974, Leningrad, cat.27) and were sold by the 6th Earl of Rosebery from Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire, Sotheby's House sale, 18-20 May 1977, lot 802-813.
Christie's. Quai d'Orsay, Paris - An Apartment by Jacques Grange, 19 November 2010, London, King Street www.christies.com