Show me:
and
Clear all filters

  • 25 items Explore
  • 38 items
  • 25 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 89 items
  • 3,459 items Explore
  • 92 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 42 items
  • 11,034 items Explore
  • 209 items Explore
  • 1,235 items Explore
  • 8,508 items Explore
  • 5,049 items Explore
  • 72 items Explore
  • 128 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,648 items Explore
  • 13,490 items Explore
  • 4,620 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 5 items
  • 150 items Explore
  • 2,019 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 4,728 items Explore
  • 24 items Explore
  • 440 items Explore
  • 19,180 items Explore
  • 34 items Explore
  • 1,903 items Explore
  • 1,111 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 5,324 items Explore
  • 455 items Explore
  • 29 items
  • 920 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 8 items
  • 19,058 items Explore
  • 787 items Explore
  • 19 items
  • 74 items Explore
  • 33 items
  • 800 items
  • 25 items
  • 61 items
  • 28 items
  • 303 items Explore
  • 6 items
  • 44 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 145 items
  • 2 items
  • 7 items
  • 121 items Explore
  • 119 items
  • 1 items
  • 1,020 items Explore
  • 821 items
  • 95 items
  • 27 items
  • 7 items
  • 27,035 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,852 items Explore
  • 1,529 items Explore
  • 403 items
  • 158 items Explore
  • 9,551 items Explore
  • 9,689 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1 items
  • 39 items
  • 3 items
  • 4 items
  • 6,055 items Explore
  • 6,104 items Explore
  • 4,059 items Explore
  • 1,514 items Explore
  • 929 items Explore
  • 3,486 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 312 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,361 items Explore
  • 20 items Explore
  • 335 items Explore
  • 794 items Explore
  • 1,093 items Explore
  • 511 items Explore
  • 882 items Explore
  • 1,138 items
  • 89 items
  • 126 items Explore
  • 6,949 items Explore
  • 163 items
  • 310 items
  • 7 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 27 items
  • 61 items
  • 300 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,938 items Explore
  • 1,514 items Explore
  • 82 items
  • 43 items
  • 19,438 items Explore
  • 1,222 items Explore
  • 138 items
  • 839 items Explore
  • 32 items
  • 1 items
  • 132 items Explore
  • 24 items
  • 40 items
  • 20 items
  • 3 items
  • 252 items
  • 314 items
  • 859 items Explore
  • 1,897 items
  • 350 items Explore
  • 2,420 items
  • 2,533 items
  • 6 items
  • 3 items
  • 3 items
  • 4,391 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 34,004 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,295 items Explore
  • 273 items Explore
  • 8,049 items Explore
  • 31 items
  • 25 items
  • 724 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 65 items
  • 161 items
  • 52 items
  • 21,439 items Explore
  • 915 items
  • 18 items
  • 22,025 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 2,338 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1,051 items Explore
  • 59 items
  • 499 items
  • 3,289 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 174 items
  • 453 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 21 items
  • 90 items Explore
  • 76 items
  • 289 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 6 items
  • 128 items
  • 295 items
  • 752 items
  • 878 items
  • 1 items
  • 369 items Explore
  • 273 items Explore
  • 11,431 items Explore
  • 760 items Explore
  • 6,254 items Explore
  • 10 items
  • 6,965 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 5,319 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 3,732 items Explore
  • 9,178 items Explore
  • 7,707 items Explore
  • 201 items
  • 19 items
  • 142 items
  • 7 items
  • 1,000 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 4,176 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 4 items
  • 1,096 items Explore
  • 224 items
  • 1 items
  • 3,494 items Explore
  • 20 items
  • 696 items Explore
  • 18 items
  • 134 items
  • 3,505 items Explore
  • 13,449 items Explore
  • 2,720 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 8 items
  • 9,291 items Explore
  • 37 items
  • 2 items
  • 21,341 items Explore
  • 102 items
  • 38 items
  • 13,119 items Explore
  • 3,311 items Explore
  • 2,133 items Explore
  • 163 items
  • 41,028 items Explore
  • 639 items Explore
  • 415 items
  • 23,287 items Explore
  • 218 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 20 items
  • 30 items
  • 199 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 217 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 13,115 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 10,261 items
  • 9 items
  • 10 items
  • 14 items
  • 25 items
  • 4,548 items Explore
  • 918 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 220 items
  • 702 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 2,284 items Explore
  • 1,659 items Explore
  • 15 items
  • 1,913 items Explore
  • 151 items
  • 83 items
  • 771 items Explore
  • 3,265 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 22 items
  • 12 items
  • 10,646 items Explore
  • 22,667 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 1 items
  • 2 items
  • 1,373 items
  • 180 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 8 items
  • 92 items
  • 10,781 items Explore
  • 3,567 items Explore
  • 2,646 items Explore
  • 4,767 items Explore
  • 22 items
  • 45 items
  • 1 items
  • 6,897 items Explore
  • 4,792 items Explore
  • 271 items Explore
  • 2,303 items Explore
  • 2,602 items Explore
  • 3 items
  • 1,859 items Explore
  • 53 items
  • 223 items Explore
  • 443 items Explore
  • 5,873 items Explore
  • 8,841 items Explore
  • 1,851 items Explore
  • 5,755 items Explore
  • 3,340 items Explore
  • 10,574 items Explore
  • 86 items
  • 11 items
  • 2,600 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 24 items
  • 51 items
  • 3 items
  • 1 items
  • 2,297 items Explore
  • 620 items Explore
  • 62 items
  • 17 items
  • 151 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 87 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 464 items
  • 997 items
  • 3,600 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,410 items Explore
  • 48 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 42 items
  • 3 items
  • 13,715 items Explore
  • 1,191 items Explore
  • 92 items
  • 10,568 items Explore
  • 1,006 items Explore
  • 1,926 items
  • 6,041 items Explore
  • 21 items
  • 12,949 items Explore
  • 1,412 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 9,566 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 16,313 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 1,670 items Explore
  • 175 items
  • 58 items
  • 5,734 items Explore
  • 8,583 items Explore
  • 48 items
  • 25 items
  • 2 items
  • 59 items
  • 3 items
  • 7,385 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 437 items Explore
  • 13 items
  • 4 items
  • 3 items
  • 6 items
  • 4 items
  • 104 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 5 items
  • 480 items
  • 183 items Explore
  • 8,395 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 24,159 items Explore
  • 7,292 items Explore
  • 5 items
  • 26 items
  • 3,510 items Explore
  • 339 items
  • 9 items
  • 326 items Explore
  • 12,711 items Explore
  • 55 items
  • 20 items
  • 7 items
  • 4 items
  • 315 items Explore
  • 451 items
  • 184 items
  • 3,624 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 1,228 items Explore
  • 2,368 items Explore
  • 732 items Explore
  • 36 items
  • 1,146 items Explore
  • 97 items Explore
  • 42 items
  • 248 items Explore
  • 71,260 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 3,064 items Explore
  • 2,847 items Explore
  • 28 items
  • 3,390 items Explore
  • 1,257 items Explore
  • 4 items
  • 16,949 items Explore
  • 5,549 items Explore
  • 7 items
  • 624 items Explore
  • 85 items
  • 468 items
  • 39 items
  • 76 items
  • 29 items
  • 336 items
  • 3 items
  • 41 items
  • 1,176 items Explore
  • 109 items
  • 805 items
  • 31 items
  • 10,730 items Explore
  • 27 items
  • 13 items
  • 1,566 items Explore
  • 1 items
  • 266 items
  • 16,464 items Explore
  • 78 items
  • 17 items
  • 1 items
  • 10 items
  • 6 items
  • 324 items
  • 2 items
  • 628 items Explore
  • 1,594 items Explore
  • 1,031 items Explore
  • 2 items
  • 263 items

Select a time period

Or choose a specific year

Clear all filters

The Contest over Achilles' Armour

'Niclaes' (fl. 1562)

Category

Tapestries

Date

circa 1550 - circa 1565

Materials

Tapestry, wool and silk, 7 warps per cm

Measurements

3450 mm (H); 4480 mm (W)

Order this image

Collection

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, Midlands, National Trust

NT 1129448.5

Summary

Tapestry, wool and silk, 7 warps per cm, The Contest over Achilles’ Armour, from a set of 8 of the Story of Ulysses, Brussels, c. 1550-1565. This is the fifth tapestry in the narrative series. Ajax (Telamon) and Ulysses, on the left hand side of the scene and identified by inscriptions on their clothing, are in dispute over the armour of the fallen hero Achilles which lies in a heap on the ground in the centre. Their dispute takes place in the Greek camp and is witnessed by Agamemnon and Menelaus, who are also identified by inscriptions. Other members of the Greek army crowd into the tent, and more tents can be seen in the background landscape. The armour itself is very elaborate and includes a red breastplate, a blue helmet with a golden lion no the top and a large plume, a silver axe and a shield adorned with a thunderbolt. After Achilles was killed Ajax and Ulysses had retrieved his body, and they were the only men brave enough to claim his armour. Their dispute took the form of a debate. Ovid’s Metamorphoses recounts that following Ulysses’ speech the Greeks awarded him the armour, and that Ajax committed suicide in shame (Book XIII). Other sources relate that he was driven mad by Athene, and on returning to his senses killed himself in shame at having run amok and killed livestock.

Full description

The eight tapestries at Hardwick tell the story of the classical hero Ulysses (Odysseus in Greek mythology), King of Ithaca. Ulysses was one of the principal champions of the Greek forces during the Trojan Wars as recounted in the ‘Iliad’ of Homer, and he was the hero of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ which charts his lengthy wanderings again after the war was over before finally returning to Ithaca. Renowned for his resourcefulness and his stratagems, Ulysses was responsible for the famous wooden horse which allowed the Greeks to enter the city of Troy. After the war when the various armies returned home Ulysses and his men were subject to a number of trials and adventures. Eventually Ulysses lost his entire crew, and returned home to Ithaca only after twenty years of wandering. Meanwhile his palace had been beset by suitors for the hand of his beautiful wife Penelope, who feasted continually at the absent king’s expense; on his return Ulysses punished the suitors brutally. The designer of the Ulysses series is unknown but they have been associated on stylistic grounds with Michiel Coxcie (1499-1592) (Roethlisberger 1972), and this is also supported by documentary evidence (Roethlisberger 1972; Delmacel 1993). All eight tapestries bear the mark of the city of Brussels, two Bs either side of a red shield for Brussels and Brabant, in the lower right hand corner. In addition seven of the tapestries also bear one of three different maker’s marks in the lower right corner, and one has signs of a now destroyed mark. The first mark, containing the initials PVA, has most recently been attributed to Pieter van Aelst the younger (fl. 1509-1555) (Delmarcel 1992, p. 440; Delmarcel 1999, p. 363). The second mark, in the form of the letters ‘NH’ with a horizontal line above them, is almost certainly that of Niclaes Hellinck, who is recorded in 1559 and again in 1576 (Delmarcel 1980, p.9; Donnet 1894, p.452; Destrée 1900, pp. 32-33). The third mark, consisting of a vertical line, forked at the top, with three curved horizontal lines crossing it and a circle at the bottom, belongs to an unknown weaver. A similar mark appears on a document dated 1562 accompanied by the signature ‘Niclaes’ (Steppe 1981). The Ulysses tapestries probably date from the 1550s or 1560s. The eight tapestries at Hardwick are the earliest and most complete surviving weaving of a set that was extremely popular during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and numerous different weavings survive. These include a total of fifteen different episodes from the story. The most complete sets are in Schloss Herrnstein, North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Spanish Royal Collection (Junquera de Vega & Gallegos 1986, series 42). The tapestries have been at Hardwick since at least 1601, when they were recorded in an inventory of the house in their present position in the High Great Chamber. There is no record of their purchase, but Santina Levey has suggested that they were the set of hangings mentioned in the legal dispute between Bess and her fourth husband the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1586. One of the items that Shrewsbury claimed ownership of was “Item rich hangings 8 pieces which were Sir William Pickerings and bought by Mr Bateman which cost the Earl £200.” (Levey 1998, pp. 15, 23). Sir William Pickering (1516/17-1575) was English Ambassador to France from 1551-53, and an active patron and collector, with a particular interest in literature. Accused of plotting against Queen Mary’s Spanish marriage in 1553 he narrowly escaped arrest in Paris and spent the following year travelling in Italy and Germany. In December 1554 he was pardoned and in March 1555, a plausible date for the production of the tapestries, he was in Brussels; soon afterwards he was allowed home. Had Pickering wished to purchase or commission a set of tapestries in Brussels the story of Ulysses would certainly have been appropriate, as he was on his way home from an Odyssey in which he had narrowly escaped death. (Helen Wyld, 2009)

Provenance

Woven in Brussels, c. 1550-65; recorded in the inventory of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury at Hardwick Hall in 1601, hanging in the High Great Chamber; thence by descent to Andrew, 11th Duke of Devonshire; acquired through the National Land Fund in 1956 and transferred to the National Trust in 1959

Credit line

Hardwick Hall, The Devonshire Collection (acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to The National Trust in 1959)

Marks and inscriptions

In cartouche on upper border: [………..] A PARIDE PEREMPTI ARMA OB PRVDEN/ […….]GRATIAMI BEGIBVS ACCEPTIT [then a scrolling flourish] Lower galloon, left: 'BB' either side of a red shield Lower galloon, right: Mark consisting of a vertical line, forked at the top, with three curved horizontal lines crossing it and a circle at the bottom

Makers and roles

'Niclaes' (fl. 1562), Tapestry weaver / entrepreneur Brussels , Tapestry weaving centre probably Michiel Coxcie the elder (Mechelen 1499 - Mechelen 1592), artist

References

Delmarcel, 1999: Guy Delmarcel, Flemish Tapestry, Tielt 1999 Levey, 1998: Santina M. Levey, An Elizabethan inheritance: the Hardwick Hall textiles. London: National Trust, 1998. Delmarcel, 1992: Guy Delmarcel, ‘Aelst, Pieter van (d.j.)’, in Gunter Meissner (ed.), Allgemeines Künstlerlexic: die bildend Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker, vol. 1, Munich/Leipzig 1992, p. 440 Junquera de Vega and Gallegos, 1986: Paulina Junquera de Vega and Carmen Díaz Gallegos, Catalogo de Tapices del Patrimonio nacional, volumen II: siglo XVII, Madrid 1986 Steppe 1981 Jan Karel Steppe, ‘Enkele nieuwe gegevens betreffende tapijtwerk van de geschiedenis van Vertumnus en Pomona vervaardigd door Willem de Pannemaker voor Filips II van Spanje’, Artes Textiles, X (1981), pp. 125-140 Delmarcel, 1980: Guy Delmarcel, Tapisseries Anciennes d’Engien, Mons 1980 Roethlisberger 1972 Marcel Roethlisberger, ‘The Ulysses tapestries at Hardwick Hall’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 79, 114th year, 6th series, no. 1237 (Feb. 1972), pp. 111-125 Roethlisberger 1971 Marcel Roethlisberger, ‘Deux tentures bruxelloises du milieu du XVIe siècle’, Oud Holland, 1971 pp. 88-115 Destrée 1900 Joseph Destrée, L’industrie de la tapisserie à Enghien et dans la seigneurie de ce nom, Enghien 1900 Donnet, 1894: Fernand Donnet, ‘Les tapisseries de Bruxelles, Enghien et Audenarde pendant la furie Espagnole (1576)’, Annales de la société d’Archéologie de Bruxelles, vol. 8 (1894), pp. 442-476

View more details