Ian Cornelis, weaver active in Antwerp from 1664 until his death in 1678
The signature of IAN.CORNELIS, weaver active in Antwerp from 1664 to 1678, unites five of the main episodes of the Odyssey by Ulysses and begins with the siege of the city of Troy. Suggested throughout the Homeric tale, the Trojan War triggered Ulysses' twenty year absence from Ithaca. After spending ten years besieging the city without results, a soldier persuaded Ulysses, to join him in continuing the fight. However, Ulysses, with and on chest, appears to be convincing the soldier that the use of force will not be effective and that he has a better idea, that being the Trojan horse.
The second tapestry, signed IAN.CORNELIS, depicts the departure of Ulysses' son, Telemachus, to Pylos and Sparta, mentioned at the end of Odyssey book I. The young man hopes to get information about his father, missing since the heroes returned from the war. A female figure on the left, perhaps his mother Penelope, points towards Apollo, whose shining chariot is seen through the clouds.
The third tapestry transcribes book V, during which Ulysses meets the nymph Calypso. She rescued him from his sinking ship during his return trip to Ithaca and she falls in love with him. The young woman then keeps him on her island for seven years, offering him immortality if he agrees to stay near her in the caves, her palace. Following Zeus's intervention, she nevertheless agrees to let him leave her island. The piece of tapestry depicts him building a raft alongside Calypso accompanied by Cupid symbolizing the love she still feels for him.
According to book VI, following his departure from Circe island, Ulysses is again shipwrecked. Pursued by Poseidon's wrath, he lands on the island of the king of the Phaeacians, Alcinous. His daughter, Princess Nausicaa, went with her followers to the nearby river to wash her linen in preparation of her wedding, waking the shipwrecked hero. The latter appears to the right of the tapestry, emerging from the undergrowth, and unlike the literary tradition where he is in rags, here he is attired and wearing a helmet, in order to maintain an iconographic coherence. Despite the mistrust held by the group of women, Nausicaa approaches the hero in order to help them.
The last section, extracted from Book X, is a chronologically earlier episode, in which Ulysses tells the Phaeacians about his encounter with Circe. Shortly after leaving Troy, Ulysses' ship reached the island of Aeaee, the domain of the magician Circe. She welcomes the crew of Ulysses and offers kykeon, a drink to which she adds a poison which will transform them into swine. However, the god Mercury, visible in the background, provides the hero with grass allowing him and his men to avoid their sad fate and triumph over the magician.