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Tony Grist

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Tapestry [May. 14th, 2015|09:26 pm]
Tony Grist
We overlook tapestry. We don't think of it as art. Even in Hampton Court- where they really should know better- they put candelabra in front of it so you can't see the pictures properly. They wouldn't do that to their Rembrandt- or one of their Caravaggio's- but tapestry- it's just wallpaper, innit!

These are details from a pair of tapestries in  the Great Watching Chamber at Hampton Court. They belonged to Henry VIII and probably to Cardinal Wolsey before him (I have a soft spot for Wolsey.) I spent a long time trying to work out the iconography and I think one of them represents the Triumph of the Virtues (fierce women with swords) and the other the Apotheosis of The Three Graces. There were no notes to hand to help me (there should have been) and I've not been able to find anything online either- so this is just an educated guess.  I think they're tremendous. Just look at the faces. These are real people, beautifully observed,  wonderfully alive. And to think it's all been done not with paint but on a loom!







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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2015-05-14 08:42 pm (UTC)
We don't put candelabras in front of the tapestries over here. Maybe it's because we have so few of them, and because most of them are now in museums.

We have a set in Phila for which Peter Paul Rubens did the cartoons. They fill the second level of the Great Hall.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-14 08:46 pm (UTC)
Or maybe you've started seeing them as the major works of art they very often are.

Rubens was so incredibly productive.

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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2015-05-14 09:00 pm (UTC)
I think it's different once they're moved to a museum setting. The Unicorn Tapestries, for example, were hung on the walls of John D. Rockefeller's house, where I think they had easy chairs and lamps in front of them. Now there's precious little to compete with them.

(When they were rediscovered in France they were being used to keep the frost off potatoes in a farmer's barn.)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-15 08:12 am (UTC)
Yes, as soon as you move something into a museum it becomes art. Hampton Court has an art gallery- but the tapestries aren't in it. They're part of the furnishings of a room in which the main idea is to conjure up the atmosphere of the Henrician court. In other words they're being used as stage props.
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From: cmcmck
2015-05-15 07:24 am (UTC)
Fabulous.

People don't always realise how many thousands of loom hours works like these take!

Whenever I go to see the Dame a Licorne tapestries in Cluny, I eventually have to be dragged away screaming because I want to stay another hour or three or ten...............

And I'm still finding things!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-15 08:14 am (UTC)
I read that a tapestry cost a lot more than an oil painting- and I suppose that's true.
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From: cmcmck
2015-05-15 11:17 am (UTC)
Given the sheer amount of labour involved, certainly!
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From: artkouros
2015-05-15 12:47 pm (UTC)
That stuff is amazing. You'd think with computers and robots this sort of thing would be making a comeback.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-05-15 01:56 pm (UTC)
But who could afford it? Wallpaper is so very much cheaper.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2015-05-19 06:33 pm (UTC)
Magnificent work.
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