J.P. Asselberghs, Les tapisseries flamandes aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique, Bruxelles, 1974
King Francis I continued the French expansion in Italy, and his emblem, the salamender, probably indicates that the tapestry's realisation was during his reign (1515-1547)
Acquired around 1875 by Arthur Schickler, this tapestry was previously featured in the fourth retrospective exhibition of the Central Union of Fine Arts in 1874 according to E. Muntz. The latter deemed it oeuvre intéressante au plus haut degré par son origine, son sujet, surtout son caractère éminemment national (an interesting work to the highest degree due to its origin, its subject, especially its eminently national character). (op. cit., 84).
An engraving from the 1870s (rep. in H.F. Delaborde, op.cit., p.605) shows it in its state at this period when the lower border was missing. Baron Schikler had it restored and loaned it twice, for Universal Exposition of 1878 and the French Primitives at the Pavilion of Marsan in 1904.
G. Migeon described this tapestry in 1909: "Une pièce historique, des collections du baron Arthur Schikler, nous a conservé le portrait pour ainsi dire authentique de Charles VIII [...]image inifiment précieuse, où le roi est représenté à cheval, l'épée haute" (A historical piece, from the collections of Baron Arthur Schikler, has preserved the authentic portrait of Charles VIII [...] infinitely valuable image, where the king is represented on horseback, with raised sword) (op cit, p 290).
This tapestry's composition also recalls the cycles devoted to the legend of the Nine Worthies, extolling the chivalrous virtues through the evocation of heroes from the Bible (Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeus), Antiquity (Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar) and Christianity (King Arthur, Godfrey of Bouillon and Charlemagne).
The Worcester Art Museum (Massachusetts) has, within the John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, a very similar tapestry attributed to Tournai, representing Godfrey of Bouillon on horseback against a mille-fleurs ground (2014.100).
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