Vanity Sounds the Horn and Ignorance Unleashes the Hounds Overconfidence, Rashness, and Desire (from The Hunt of the Frail Stag)

Date: ca. 1500–1525

Culture: South Netherlandish

Medium: Wool warp, wool and silk wefts, one place embroidered in wool yarn

Dimensions: Overall: 118 x 150in. (299.7 x 381cm)

Classification: Textiles-Tapestries

Credit Line: Bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, 1950

Accession Number: 50.145.4


This tapestry is part of a series that symbolically represents man's life on earth as a stag hunt. Man is depicted here as "the fragile stag" bounding through the woods. The stag is being hunted by desire, Rashness, and Overconfidence, the hunting dogs set loose by Ignorance, portrayed as an elegantly dressed woman at the bottom center of the tapestry. Dominating the scene at the right is another courtly lady, Vanity, who sounds the hunting horn.

This allegory cautions against the vices that threaten man's progress in life and serves as a reminder of human frality.