Designed by Alessandro Allori (Italian, Florentine, 15351607); workshop of Guasparri di Bartolomeo Papini, Florence
Wool and silk; 14 ft. x 14 ft. 8 in. (427 x 446 cm)
Purchase, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation Inc. Gift and Rogers Fund, 2004 (2004.165)
Depicting the Children of Israel gathering manna (Exodus 16) and Moses holding the tablets on which he inscribed the Ten Commandments, this tapestry was one of three (of an intended set of five) made in 159596 for the cathedral of Como. It is a rare example of a private commission undertaken by the Florence tapestry workshops, most of whose production was reserved for the Medici family. According to contractual documents, the tapestries were to be of a medium-quality weave and each would be woven in eight months (two were required for preparation of the cartoons). Combining multiple narratives, an allover composition, and an elaborate sculptural border, the designs typify those that Allori produced for the Medici workshop during the last quarter of the sixteenth century.
Before completion, the set was appropriated by Grand Duke Ferdinand de' Medici as a gift for Alessandro de' Medici, archbishop of Florence (later Pope Leo XI), before his departure to France as papal ambassador.