Aglauros’s Vision of the Bridal Chamber of Herse, from the Story of Mercury and Herse

Designer: Design attributed to Giovanni Battista Lodi da Cremona (Italian, active 1540–52)

Artist: After a print by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio (Italian, Parma or Verona ca. 1500/1505–1565 Krakow (?)) : Marriage of Alexander & Roxana, after Raphael

Designer: Border design attributed to Giovanni Francesco Penni (Italian, Florence ca. 1496–after 1528 Naples) (from the set of the "Acts of the Apostles")

Factory director: Weaving workshop directed by Willem de Pannemaker (Flemish, active Brussels, 1535–78, died 1581)

Date: designed ca. 1540, woven ca. 1570

Culture: Flemish, Brussels

Medium: Wool, silk and precious metal-wrapped threads (20-22 warps per inch, 8-9 warps per cm.)

Dimensions: weight confirmed, includes tube: 14 ft. 4 in. × 17 ft. 9 in., 173 lb. (436.9 × 541 cm, 78.5 kg)

Classification: Textiles-Tapestries

Credit Line: Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941

Accession Number: 41.190.135

Description

This splendid tapestry depicts the seventh, and penultimate, episode in the story of the ill-fated love affair between Herse, a mortal princess from Athens, and Mercury, god of trade, profit and travel. As recounted by the Roman writer Ovid in Book 2 of his narrative poem, The Metamorphoses, Mercury spied Herse participating, as a flower-garlanded virgin, in a festival honoring Minerva, and approached her father’s palace. Mercury petitioned her sister, Aglauros, to help him woo Herse. Stricken with jealousy, Aglauros envisioned in great detail how the union between Mercury and her sister might appear. It is that vision, rather than an actual bridal night, that we see represented here, in an exquisitely sumptuous re-edition of the tapestry series, heavy with precious thread, and woven with a virtuoso display of different surface effects. The final tapestry in the set is displayed near-by.

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