Lot 8
  • 8


120,000 - 180,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Haut. 200 cm, Long. 400 cm ; height 78 3/4 in., length 157 1/2 in.
in wool and silk, adorned at its center with a medallion surrounded by garlands of flowers and fruits representing an allegory of Music, surrounded by a rich border of flowers and fruits


Related literature Boccara, Les Belles heures de la tapisserie, 1971, p. 37

Galerie Blondeel-Deroyan, Millefleurs, Paris, 2000, p. 29

Catalogue Note

The so-called Mille-Fleurs tapestries correspond to a decorative style, an aesthetic, rather than a specific technique of weaving. The tapestry with arms of Philippe le Bon, duke of Burgundy, woven by a Brussels workshop circa 1466, preserved in the Historical Museum of Bern, is one of the oldest examples known and documented. Thus, this decoration probably appears in the years 1450-1460 and became popular during the sixteenth century. These tapestries will mainly be produced in the major police centers of northern France and Flanders such as Arras, Lille, Tournai or Bruges. The most famous series of allegorical tapestries Mille Fleurs is that of "La Dame à la Licorne", preserved in the museum of Cluny in Paris. The six tapestries each represent a unicorn, birds and animals and interpret an allegory of the five senses, standing out against garance background. The sixth tapestry bearing the inscription "à mon seul désir", is the subject of several interpretations and could designate free will.

The flora of this tapestry is particularly rich and seeks to fill the void : large bunches of irises, hyacinths, strawberries, daisies, roses, thoughts, columbines or wallflowers compose and harmonize it. All these plants arranged on a dark blue background are treated with flavor and freedom, and the flowers or bouquets are never the same. A broad border formed by a garland of flowers and fruits, such as apples, pears, bunches of grapes or pomegranates, enhances the whole (for an interpretation of the botanical species in the thousand flowers of the tapestry see A. Cavallo, The Tapestries of the Unicorn of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998, pp. 103-110, Appendix I). This type of border appears from the very beginning of the 16th century, and the plant motifs as for them, prefigure the tapestries with the Aristoloches of the factories of the southern Netherlands such as Enghien or Grammont. On other tapestries, are added small wild animals, native or exotic or even mythological, and sometimes even characters. While most Flemish weaving centers have adopted this decorative repertoire, their symbolic origins and their sudden popularity remain unexplained. It seems that these bouquets arranged here and there in an untamed way represent the fear of chaos in medieval man, madness and impiety - although it is possible that it has in fact no symbolic meaning.

Moreover, the development of allegorical subjects is characteristic of the end of the Middle Ages, as for example the subject of the Triumph of death on chastity. Other allegorical subjects concern more secular and pastoral activities, more than ecclesiastical scenes, including small animals. This is the case of our tapestry, embellished with an allegory of music on a landscape background in its center, in a medallion surrounded by a garland of flowers and fruits. Two women are playing a musical instrument, a kind of fiddle for one, the trumpet for the other. Between them, an escutcheon held by a ribbon is tied to a tree trunk that seems attached to different flowering groves. At that time, tapestries could be elaborated with crest shields that were later added according to the identity of the buyer. That would probably explain their absence on our play.

For comparative examples:

- Sale Oger and Blanchet SVV, Hotel Drouot, Paris, October 17, 2011, lot 268: for a tapestry Mille-Fleurs adorned with a medallion incorporating putti on both sides of the coat of arms that belonged to the widow of a member of the Liege family from Mouhin who was born to Miss Pickaert. It comes from the old collection of Emile and Isaac Pereire.

- Jacques Bacri Collection, Sotheby's, Paris, March 30, 2017, lot 28: tapestry Mille-Fleurs with allegorical subject, sold 247 500 euros.