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The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image

The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image


The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 92 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 was inspiring it in France. Lebrun had, then, to direct the talent and the labour of an army of artists and artisans, and to keep them working in harmony. It was no mean task, for one artist alone was not left to compose an entire picture, but each was taken for his specialty. One artist drew the figures, another the animals, another the trees, and another the architecture; but it was the director, Lebrun, who composed and harmonised the whole. Thus, although the number of tapestries actually composed by him is few, it was his great mind that ordered the work of others. He was the leader of the orchestra, the others were the instruments he controlled. It was while at Vaux that Lebrun had more time for his own composition. He there produced a series called Les Renommés, masterpieces of pure decorative composition. These were designed as portières for the Château of Maincy. They came to be models for the Gobelins, and were woven to hang at royal doors, the doors of Foucquet being at this time dressed with iron bars. The Gobelins wove seventy-two sets after this beautiful model which had made Lebrun’s début as an artist. Foucquet had given him a more pretentious work; it was to complete a suite, the History of Constantine, after Raphael. Rubens had given a fresh flush of popularity to this subject, which again became the mode. The History of Meleager was begun at Vaux and finished at the Gobelins. Later, Vaux forgotten, or at least a thing of the past, Lebrun’s decorative genius found expression in the series called The Months or The Royal Residences, of which there were twelve hangings. In these last the scheme is the perfection of decoration, with the subject well subdued, yet so subtly placed that notwithstanding its modesty, the eye promptly seeks it. The castle in the distance, the motive holding aloft the sign of the Zodiac, are seen even before the splendid columns and the foliage of the middle-ground. Such a hanging has power to play pretty tricks with the imagination of him who gazes upon it. The columns, smooth and solid, declare him at once to be in a place of luxury. Beyond the foreground’s columns, but near enough for touching, are trees to make a pleasant shade, and beyond, in the far distance, is the château set in fair gardens, even the château where the lovely Louise de la Vallière held her court until conscience drove her to the convent. The set of most renown, woven under Lebrun’s generalship, was that splendid advertisement of the king’s magnificence known as the History of the King. Louis demanded above all else that he should appear splendidly before men. He was jealous of the magnificence of all kings and emperors, whether living or dead. Even Solomon’s glory was not to typify greater than his. With this end in view, pomp was his pleasure, ceremony was his gratification. Add to these an insatiable vanity that knows not the disintegrating assaults of a sense of humour, and we have a man to be fed on profound adulation.

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 93 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image DESIGN BY RUBENS See larger image GOBELINS TAPESTRY. DESIGN BY RUBENS Royal Collection, Madrid

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