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A Woman Approaching a King, and a Man and Woman Approaching a King

Oudenaarde

Category

Tapestries

Date

circa 1575 - circa 1580

Materials

Tapestry, wool and silk, 5 warps per cm

Measurements

1.95 m (H); 7.05 m (W)

Place of origin

Oudenaarde

Order this image

Collection

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (Accredited Museum)

NT 1129465.2

Summary

Tapestry, wool and silk, 5 warps per cm, A Woman Approaching a King, and a Man and Woman Approaching a King from a set of six Old Testament Subjects, Oudenaarde, c. 1575-1580. A long narrow tapestry with a coat of arms and a column in the centre and a narrative scene on either side. On the left a king wearing a crown and holding a sceptre stands facing a noble-looking woman, the king accompanied by a group of soldiers and the woman accompanied by a group of maidservants, one of whom carries the train of her dress. On the right, a king sites on a throne on a raised step with two priests sitting near him, and another priest-like figure in a curved chair in the left foreground. In the right foreground a man and a woman approach the king, both pointing possibly towards the priest in the foreground, and a maidservant follows them carrying the train of the woman's dress. The tapestry has a narrow border with a pattern of alternating fleurs-de-lys and flowers in lozenges, and a wide light yellow galloon.

Full description

The six 'Old Testament' tapestries in the Drawing Room at Hardwick contain nine separate narrative scenes, one of which appears on two different tapestries. The subject of the tapestries is unclear, and it is probable that they come from two different series, as the two smallest panels have a different tonality and the galloons and borders are dark blue rather than light yellow. Ingrid de Meûter suggested that these differences were due to the two smaller panels being protected from the light of the window (de Meûter 1998) but this would not fully explain the differences in colour, and moreover the two smaller tapestries have a different provenance to the rest of the set (see below). The costumes and portrayal of the figures suggest an Old Testament subject, and the two smaller scenes resemble events from the stories of David and Solomon. The two smaller tapestries may be related to a seventh small panel that now hangs on the High Great Chamber Landing (1129451). This tapestry largely repeats the design of no. 1129465.1 in the Drawing Room set, but with the figures slightly closer together and a new group on the left hand side. It is now missing its border so its original size is not known. The long narrow dimensions of the tapestries indicate that they were intended to hang above panelling on the upper walls of a room, as they do at Hardwick. The late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries saw a vogue for tapestries of this sort. Examples include a series made for the Town Hall of Tallinn in Estonia (Mankin 2004) and two tapestries of the 'Story of David' made by François Spiering in Delft at the beginning of the seventeenth century (Hartkamp-Jonxis and Smit 2004, pp. 226-8), possibly for a similar public setting. Tapestries of similar dimensions were also often woven to hang in the choirs of churches. Potential examples include a French tapestry in the National Trust's collection at Lytes Carey Manor of the 'Life of the Virgin' (254753), and two tapestries with 'Eucharist' scenes in the Rijksmuseum (Hartkamp-Jonxis and Smit 2004, pp. 195-200). The tapestries have a narrow border with a repeating pattern of fleurs-de-lys and flowers in small lozenges. Ingrid de Meûter has noted that this kind of decoration often appears at the inner and outer edge of wider borders, and has shown that it was used exclusively at Oudenaarde (de Meûter 1998). The manufacture of the tapestries is Oudenaarde is further suggested by their association with the 'Gideon' tapestries in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, which bear a known Oudenaarde mark (no. 1129447; see Wyld 2012). De Meûter dates the 'Old Testament' tapestries to the last quarter of the sixteenth century (de Meûter 1998). However since the four larger tapestries were probably made for Christopher Hatton at the same time as the 'Gideon' set, which is dated 1578 (see below), they can in fact be dated to c. 1575-1580. The four larger tapestries are woven with the arms of Sir Christopher Hatton (c. 1540-1591) in the centre of the main field, surrounded by an elaborate frame of strap-work. Hatton's initials 'CH' are woven into the lower galloon beneath the arms. The arms and initials take exactly the same form as those found on the 'Gideon' tapestries in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, and like the 'Gideons', here too the arms have been overlaid with those of the Countess of Shrewsbury ('Bess of Hardwick'), wither with painted woollen patches or by painting directly onto the tapestry. The purchase of the 'Gideon' tapestries in 1592 from Christopher Hatton's nephew, Sir William Hatton, is recorded in detail in Bess's accounts: but whereas there are only thirteen Gideon tapestries, it is stated that she purchased seventeen tapestries. This almost certainly included the four larger tapestries in the 'Old Testament' set as well, whose subject was not mentioned as they were far smaller and less important. The quality and colouring of the four larger 'Old Testament' tapestries is very similar to the 'Gideon' set, suggesting that they were commissioned by Christopher Hatton at around the same time. It can be shown fairly conclusively that the 'Gideon' tapestries were commissioned by Hatton for the Long Gallery at Holdenby Hall, which was under construction in the 1570s (Wyld forthcoming), and it is very probably that the 'Old Testament' tapestries were intended for another room in the same house. The varying sizes of the four tapestries suggest that they were commissioned to fit a particular room. Although probably commissioned for Holdenby the tapestries fit very well into the space above the panelling in the Drawing Room at Hardwick, indicating that the panelling was installed after the purchase of the tapestries in 1592. The purchase of the two smaller tapestries with dark blue galloons is not recorded. It seems likely that they were acquired to enlarge Hatton's set so that it would fill all four walls of the Drawing Room at Hardwick. By 1601 there were six tapestries in the Drawing Room, or 'My Lady's Withdrawing Chamber' as it was then known: "six peeces of tapestrie hanginges with personages and my Ladies Armes in them, waynscott under the hainginges rownde about, the hanginges Sixe foote deep" (Levey and Thornton 2001, p. 53). For the next 400 years the tapestries appear not to have moved. The next mention of the set comes in 1944, when Duchess Evelyn noted that "The tapestry (Sir Christopher Hatton) was covered with portraits of the Sixth Duke's friends, which I moved" (Devonshire 1945). A year later she noted of the Drawing Room that "Sir Christopher Hatton's tapestry (payment for which is in the account books) is still there" (Devonshire, 1945). In a section on 'The Preservation of Tapestries and other Textiles and Furniture', appended to her 1945 notes, Duchess Evelyn made the intriguing observation that many of the tapestries at Hardwick had had the faces tinted with paint, and she wondered whether this had been done in the factory, since she had been told that there was once a law forbidding it. She went on to note that: "The tapestry round the Drawing Room – bought from Sir Christopher Hatton's nephew – has certainly had something put on the faces, which has turned them quite dark grey. I once tried to wash a face in some fragment of Brussels tapestry and found the surface became sticky but would not yield to soap. I did not dare use spirit which would probably have moved it." (Devonshire, 1945). Since Duchess Evelyn's observations, Sophie Schneebalg-Perelman has shown that paint was extensively used on the surface of tapestries at production stage during the sixteenth century (Schneebalg-Perelman 1961). (Helen Wyld, 2011)

Provenance

Made for Sir Christopher Hatton, c. 1575-80, and presumably hung at Holdenby Hall; on Hatton’s death in 1591 inherited by his nephew Sir William Newport (later Hatton); July 1592 purchased by Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury for Hardwick Hall; thence by descent to Andrew, 11th Duke of Devonshire (1920-2004); 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)

Makers and roles

Oudenaarde, workshop

References

Wyld 2012: Helen Wyld, 'The Gideon Tapestries at Hardwick Hall', West 86th, vol. 19, no. 2 (Fall-Winter 2012), pp. 231-254 Hartkamp-Jonxis and Smit, 2004: Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis and Hille Smit, European Tapestries in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 2004 Mankin, 2004: Urve Mankin, Tallinn Town Council’s Tapestries in the Tallinn City Museum, Tallinn 2004 Levey and Thornton, 2001: Santina Levey and Peter Thornton (eds.), Of Household Stuff: The 1601 Inventories of Bess of Hardwick, London 2001 De Meûter, 1998: Ingrid de Meûter, ‘Flemish Tapestries of the 16th and 17th Centuries in Great Britain and their Connection with Oudenaarde’, Bulletin de liaison du Centre International d’Étude des Textiles Anciens [CIETA], 75 (1998), pp. 97-109 de Meûter et al., 1999: Ingrid de Meûter, Martine Vanwelden et al., Tapisseries d'Audenarde du XVle au XVllle Siècle, Tielt 1999 Devonshire, 1945: Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire, Notes on the 6th Duke’s Handbook, written for her daughter-in-law Mary Cecil, 1945 (Unpublished manuscript, Hardwick Hall) Devonshire, 1946: Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire, Notes on Hardwick following the route of the 1601 inventory, 1946 (Unpublished manuscript, Hardwick Hall) Schneebalg-Perelman, 1961: Sophie Schneebalg-Perelman, ‘”Le retouchage” dans la tapisserie bruxelloise ou les origins de l’édit impériale de 1544’, Annales de la Société royale d’Archéologie de Bruxelles, 50 (1961), pp. 191-202

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