Two tapestries of the Diana set acquired by the Château d’Ecouen

1. France, c. 1550
Jupiter and Latone
Wool and silk - 470 x 400 (about)
Ecouen, Musée national de la Renaissance

31/08/07 — Acquisitions — Ecouen, France, Musée national de la Renaissance — The Diana tapestries set was probably commissioned by Henri II to decorate the gallery on the first floor of the Château d’Anet. Of this ensemble, eight tapestries were known of : four in Anet, two at the Metropolitan Museum, one in Rouen at the Musée départemental des Antiquités and the last one in a private collection in the United States (except for the last one, they were all brought together in 1972-1973 for the exhibition L’Ecole de Fontainebleau [1]). Their author’s identity is still being debated. Several painters might possibly have participated in the project. The names of Jean Cousin le vieux, Luca Penni or Etienne Delaune have been mentioned. As for the weaving, it was probably the product of Parisian workshops.

Unfortunately, in 1997, the tapestries belonging to the château d’Anet were destroyed by the fire that devastated the restoration workshop where they were at the time.

2. France, c. 1550
The Birth of Diana ad Apollo
Wool and silk - 470 x 400 (about)
Ecouen, Musée national de la Renaissance

The Musée d’Ecouen has just acquired the first two works of the series (ill. 1 and 2), which recently appeared in a private collection. They tell the beginning of the story of the goddess of hunting : one shows Jupiter and Latona whose union resulted in the birth of Diana and Apollo, an episode narrated in the second tapestry.

It has at times been put forward, due to the difference in the edges, that various similar tapestries were woven. However, the edges of the two tapestries newly acquired by Ecouen have distinct patterns, although much like those of other works in the series. In any case, it would be extremely surprising if copies had never been found. It is thus likely that this set was unique making the series all the more valuable and the loss of four of the tapestries even more tragic.

English version

Didier Rykner, vendredi 31 août 2007


[1] Collective work, L’Ecole de Fontainebleau, Paris, 1972, catalogue of the exhibition, Grand Palais, October 17, 1972-January 15, 1973, P. 347-351

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