A plaque attached to the frame explains the subject of the present picture; 'Queen Matilda and her Norman and Saxon maidens working the Bayeaux Tapestry, 67. yards long, to illustrate the Norman Conquest, and to prove William's title to the Throne of England.'
Queen Matilda, dressed in golden robes holds one of the designs for a scene from the projected work that the various maidens gathered around her are preparing to undertake. A young page lays out dyed threads which one of the weavers selects, whilst the other women gain inspiration from the melodic tales recited to the tune of a lute by a radiant blonde musician. The dusky girl seated beside Matilda, was one of Hicks' favourite models and whose head appears in an almost identical pose in a small painting of the same year The Gypsy Girl (sold in these rooms, 1 July 2004, lot 312) which may have begun its existence as a study for The Bayeaux Tapestry. This painting is among Hicks' most important historical pictures but also shows his ability to capture the varying beauties of womanhood.
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