Traditionally the Nine Heroes are identified as Judas Maccabeus, David and Joshua from the Old Testament; Hector, Alexander and Julius Caesar from Antiquity; and King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey de Bouillon as the three Christian heroes. The earliest survival of a series devoted to The Nine Worthies is that in The Metropolitan Museum of Art which was woven in the Southern Netherlands in 1400 - 1410, but it follows a completely different scheme from the offered lot (Cavallo, A, Medieval Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993, Cat. 2, pp. 94 -124). It was in the late 16th century that the Marche workshops in the region of Aubusson and Felletin took up the theme depicting the heroes on horseback. A document of 1546 records that Jehan Chartier from Bourges commissioned a set from Léonard Deveau and Joseph Laurent, weavers in Felletin (D. P. Chevalier and P.-F. Bertrand, Les Tapisseries d'Aubusson et de Felletin, Lausanne, 1988, pp.20-21).
For a comprehensive discussion of the tapestry series, see Jean Favier, Un rêve de chevalerie: les Neuf Preux, Château de Langeais, 2003, pp. 68-77, & p.72 for a similar composition (in reverse), Atelier de la Marche, 16th century, with the same border type, but the lower border a later rewoven replacement. The series of seven tapestries at Château de Langeais were probably made for the Château de Chauray between 1525 and 1540. For a tapestry from the series at auction, see Charlemagne, depicting the emperor Charlemagne on horseback, the horse trappings emblazoned with the imperial device of the double-headed eagle, and descriptive label above in old french (Carlemaine fut des noef preus empereur de romme), (296cm by 275cm), Christie’s, London, Bernard Blondeel & Armand Deroyan Tapestries and Carpets, 2 April 2003, lot 5. For a comparable example from this series of the Nine Heroes, also known as the Nine Worthies, in the same border, see Göbel, Heinrich, Wandteppiche, Part II, Vol.II, abb.261: Godfrey de Bouillon.
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