This fragment is an evocative section from a once larger carpet intended as part of an extraordinary interior extravaganza. The Savonnerie carpets commissioned by Louis XIV for the Galerie d’Apollon and the Galerie du Bord de l’Eau (known as the Grande Galerie), in the Palais du Louvre, represented an extraordinarily ambitious and innovative decorative scheme through which the glory of the Sun- King was to be celebrated. The design of the carpets incorporated royal emblems, allegorical depictions of virtues and allusions to auspicious attributes to the reign of the King, as well as those to the arts and sciences. The motifs were incorporated within a classical layout of dominant central sections, flanked at each end by bas-reliefs, and all were within a unifying border type. On the 7th October thirteen Savonnerie carpets were delivered for the Galerie d’Apollon at the Louvre Palace (woven between 1664-1666). This marked the first stage of the elaborate scheme and the Galerie d’Apollon carpets served as an initial trial for the very grand and challenging suite of ninety three carpets to follow for the Grande Galerie (produced between 1670 and 1685). Apart from the central carpet in the Galerie d’Apollon, all were woven as pairs, to complement each other and assert complete symmetry between the two halves of the gallery and correspond to the architectural interior designs. The weaving of the commission for the Galerie d'Apollon took approximately two years to complete, with carpets being delivered between the years of 1667 and 1669. It is extremely difficult to determine which carpet in the series this fragment is taken from as the scrolling acanthus was a motif used in the sets for both galleries, and is seen against both a dark ground and less often against the light ground. One of the ways of differentiating those woven for the different galleries was the design of the border, which for the Galerie d’Apollon was narrower and classical in design with a secondary line of cabled fluting, changing for the Grande Galerie borders and becoming a more stylised cabochon design of wider format, and fleur-de-lys
turned outwards on the ninety-three carpets as opposed to inwards on the earlier thirteen. See Pierre Verlet, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: the Savonnerie,
1982, p.188 & p.206, fig.127.
For a Louis XIV Savonnerie carpet fragment, with cornucopia, serpent and sun motif, probably from a carpet from the Galerie d’Apollon, Palais du Louvre, Paris, see Sotheby’s, London, Treasures Sale, 6 July 2016, lot 1, provenance: Collection of Sir Howard Hodgkin CH CBE. Another larger Louis XIV carpet fragment (comprising of the central medallion and side panels), from the Galerie d’Apollon, Palais de Louvre, was sold Sotheby’s, Milan, 21 October 2003, lot 420, and an exuberant carpet for the Palais du Louvre (comprised of the two ends of an originally larger carpet), delivered 10 June 1678, was sold Sotheby’s, London, Treasures Sale, 6 July 2016, lot 9.