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The Sacrifice at Lystra (left half)

probably Oudenaarde

Category

Tapestries

Date

circa 1670 - circa 1690

Materials

Tapestry, wool and silk, 4 warps per cm

Measurements

2.76 m (H); 2.39 m (W)

Place of origin

Oudenaarde

Order this image

Collection

Speke Hall, Merseyside (Accredited Museum)

NT 1197404.2

Summary

Tapestry, wool and silk, 4 warps per cm, The Sacrifice at Lystra (left half) from a set of three Acts of the Apostles, possibly Abel van Reghelbrugghe, Oudenaarde, after a design by Abraham van Diepenbeeck, c. 1670-1690. The left hand side of a larger tapestry, with an irregular cut down the right hand edge. In the centre a small fire burns on an altar in the form of a tripod, and a priest holds a dish over the flames. To the right a young man with a garland around his head kneels and holds an ox by its halter and another man stands behind holding an axe, poised to sacrifice the animal. In the left foreground there are two small boys by the altar, and a large urn stands on the ground beside them. Part of a raised platform and the left hand edge of a figure are visible on the right. The narrow borders on the top, bottom and left hand sides of the tapestry are made up of closely bunched leaves and flowers on a dark brown ground. The lower left hand corner of the tapestry is missing and has been replaced with three patches of tapestry.

Full description

The subject of the two fragments of 'The Sacrifice at Lystra' at Speke Hall is taken from Chapter 14 of the Old Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul and Barnabas were preaching to the Greeks at Lystra, where Paul healed a crippled man (the right hand part of the scene, 1197404.3). Seeing this miracle the people proclaimed that the gods had taken human form, and called Barnabas Jupiter and Paul Mercury. The priest of Jupiter then brought an ox to sacrifice before the two men (the left hand part of the scene, 1197404.2). Paul and Barnabas rent their garments in anguish, asking why the people wanted to do such things, and turn themselves away from the true god (the right hand part of the scene, 1197404.3). The three tapestries at Speke, 'Christians bringing Gifts', and the two halves of 'The Sacrifice at Lystra', come from a larger series of the Acts of the Apostles, the subjects drawn from the New Testament book of that name. The series was designed and made in Antwerp in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, Henry Marillier has identified a total of ten subjects in this series: 'Christians Bringing Gifts to the Apostles', 'The Beautiful Gate', 'St Paul Escaping from Damascus', 'St Philip Baptising the Eunach', 'The Conversion of St Paul', 'The Shipwreck at Malta', 'St Paul Delivered from Prison by the Angel', 'Christ's Charge to Peter', 'Paul Preaching at Athens' and 'The Sacrifice at Lystra' (Marillier 1930, pp. 4-6). The 'Acts of the Apostles' series was clearly inspired by the celebrated series of the same subject designed by Raphael for Pope Leo X in 1515-16. Raphael's 'Acts' were probably the most famous tapestry designs in the world in the seventeenth century and were still extremely popular, with numerous workshops in the Southern Netherlands, France and England weaving versions of the designs. The present series was probably conceived to capitalised on the popularity of Raphael's 'Acts', and in fact some of the scenes re-use Raphael's designs with little alteration, whilst others are new. The designer of the series is identified in a letter of 1676 as Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596-1675), an Antwerp artist who worked extensively as a tapestry designer for Philip Wauters, who produced the 'Acts' tapestries, and his brother Michiel (Denucé 1931, p. 199). Van Diepenbeeck's preparatory drawing for 'Christians Bringing Gifts to the Apostles' is in the British Museum (Steadman 1974, pp. 48, 63). The Speke 'Acts' tapestries relate to a number of examples of the same designs which bear the 'PW' monogram of the Antwerp tapestry entrepreneur Philip Wauters (fl. 1660-1679). These include tapestries in Westminster Abbey, Boughton House and Parham Park, as well as further examples listed by Marillier. The correspondence of the Wauters and firm mentions sets of eight 'Acts of the Apostles' tapestries in 1674, 1675, 1676 and 1682 (Denucé 1931, pp. 189, 195, 196, 199, 211), and a set of eight cartoons for the series was listed in Michiel Wauters's will in 1679 (Denucé 1932, p. 302; Crick-Kuntziger 1935, p. 36). However the Speke tapestries differ from these examples in that their designs are reversed, the borders are of a different, simpler type, and their weave is significantly coarser than the tapestries signed by Philip Wauters. A clue to the origin of the Speke tapestries comes from two tapestries in the National Museum of Art of Romania, ‘Christians Bringing Gifts’ and ‘The Sacrifice at Lystra’, which are also reversed in relation to the Wauters weavings. One of these bears the signature of Oudenaarde tapissier Abel Reghelbrugghe (1624-1694), followed by the date 1664. Although Reghelbrugghe was based in Oudenaarde his family had close links with Antwerp, where his father acted as a tapestry merchant, and De Meûter suggests that some of the Reghelbrugghe family’s tapestries may have been produced in Antwerp (De Meûter et al. 1999, pp. 199-201). Although they are not signed, the relationship of the Speke tapestries to the two pieces in Romania suggests that they may also be linked to the Reghelbrugghe family. Their relatively coarse quality – 4 warps per cm, as opposed to 6 warps per cm for the pair in Romania – may suggest production in Oudenaarde rather than Antwerp. There is a set of four 'Acts of the Apostles' tapestries, this time almost certainly made by Philip Wauters in Antwerp, in the National Trust's collection at Great Chalfield Manor (nos. 539493, 539494, 539495, 539496). It is not known when the 'Acts' came to Speke, but they had arrived by 1907 when they appear in a photograph of the Tapestry Bedroom (no. 1196079.22.1). They are recorded in a 1917 inventory of the house. Both photograph and inventory indicate that one of the tapestries had been cut to fit round a fireplace. In his discussion of the 'Acts of the Apostles' series in 1930 Henry Marillier said that 'two other unverified pieces are said to be at Speke, in Lancashire, one of which is the doubtful No. 10, Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. The other is No. 1 [Christians Bringing Gifts].' (Marillier 1930, p. 6). This description implies that the 'Sacrifice at Lystra' had not yet been cut into two pieces. In a 1964 inventory the tapestries are mentioned hanging in the Oak Bedroom at Speke. (Helen Wyld, 2012)

Provenance

Miss Adeleide Watt (1857-1921); Trustees of the late Miss Adeleide Watt, 1921-1942; National Trust from 1943

Credit line

Speke Hall, the Adeleide Watt Collection (The National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

(possibly a signature hidden under folded border on right)

Makers and roles

probably Oudenaarde, workshop possibly Abel van Reghelbrugghe (1624-1694) , workshop Abraham Jansz. van Diepenbeeck ('s Hertogenbosch 1596 - Antwerp 1675) , designer

References

Marillier, 1930: Henry C Marillier, English Tapestries of the Eighteenth Century, London 1930 Denucé, 1931: Jean Denucé, Kunstuitvoer in de 17e eeuw te Antwerpen: de firma Forchoudt, Antwerp 1931 Denucé, 1932: Jean Denucé, De Antwerpsche “Konstkamers”: inventarissen van kunstverzamelingen te Antwerpen in de 16e en 17e eeuwen, Antwerp 1932 Crick-Kuntziger, 1935: Marthe Crick-Kuntziger, 'Contribution à l'histoire de la tapisserie anversoise: les marques et les tentures des Wauters', in Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, 5, 1935, pp. 35-44 Denucé, 1936: Jean Denucé, Antwerpsche tapijtkunst en handel, Antwerp 1936 Wingfield Digby, 1959: George Wingfield Digby, ‘Tapestries by the Wauters Family for the English Market’, in Het Herfsttij van de Vlaamse Tapijtkunst, Brussels 1959, pp. 227-244 Steadman, 1982: D W Steadman, Abraham van Diepenbeeck: seventeenth century Flemish painter (PhD, Princeton University, 1973), Ann Arbor 1982 Hefford, 1992: Wendy Hefford, 'Ralph Montagu's Tapestries', in Tessa Murdoch (ed.), Boughton House, the English Versailles, London 1992 de Meûter et al., 1999: Ingrid de Meûter, Martine Vanwelden et al., Tapisseries d'Audenarde du XVle au XVllle Siècle, Tielt 1999

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