Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Otto, Count of Nassau and his Wife Adelheid van Vianen

Artist:
Bernard van Orley (Netherlandish, Brussels ca. 1492–1541/42 Brussels)
Date:
1530–35
Medium:
Pen and brown ink, watercolor over traces of black chalk; verso: tracing in black chalk of the figures on the recto
Dimensions:
14 x 19 in. (35.6 x 48.3 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.12
Not on view
At the end of the 1520s, Henry III of Nassau, advisor to Emperor Charles V, commissioned eight tapestry designs from the Brussels master Bernard van Orley glorifying his ancestors in the house of Orange-Nassau. The tapestries were woven by Willem de Moyen in Brussels, but were probably destroyed in a fire in 1760, and this and six other drawings are the only record of the commission. Discovered only shortly before the Museum acquired it in 1995, this drawing depicts one of Henry's fourteenth-century ancestors, Count Otto II of Nassau and his wife Adelheid van Vianden, seated on horseback, splendidly dressed, against the backdrop of an elaborate landscape. Their coats of arms, a festoon, and a cartouche mentioning their names top the composition, but the tapestry would also have had an ornamental border all around the composition. The contrast between the figures and their carefully observed horses in the foreground, and the deeply receding landscape is characteristic of van Orley's new approach to tapestry, which differs markedly from the more two-dimensional designs of earlier Northern artists.
Inscription: In the cartouche, inscribed in pen and brown ink: "Otho Comes de Nassou, bellice rei expertissimus egregia et memoratu digna In vita peragens facinora, ixorem habuit D. Aleidem Comitis de Viana unicam filiam. hec orba ... celibatum amplexa. opera pietatis passim exercebat. Corpus habet tollus Wetzlar apud franciscanios. [trans.: Otto, count of Nassau, most expert in matters of war, and of famous and worthy memory, overthrowing villany in life; he had as wife the only daughter of Lord Aleidis, count of Vianden. (He was) famous in this encircling world ... he performed deeds of piety throughout. The earth has his body in the Franciscan church at Wetzlar];at top in pen and brown ink, in French beside the coat-of-arms of Otto Count of Nassau, giving instructions for the execution of the arms]: le lyon doibt / estre tourne [the lion should be reversed]"
Private Collection, acquired before World War I; Vendor: sale, Sotheby's, New York, January 10, 1995, lot 152
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 17, 1995–August 20, 1995.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," June 27, 2000–September 10, 2000.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.

Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Suzanne Boorsch, Carolyn Logan, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1994-1995." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 53, no. 2, Fall 1995, p. 30 (entry written by Carolyn Logan), ill.

Sotheby's, New York Old Master Drawings. Sale cat. January 10, 1995, cat. no. 152, ill.

Thomas P. Campbell Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2002, p. 287; pp. 299-303; fig. 142, ill.



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