Tapestries on display at the Palazzo Pitti

A preview of the forthcoming Museum of Tapestries

Samantha Vaughn
April 24, 2017 - 16:58

A new museum is in the works for Florence. From April 25 to May 21, the Sala Bianca in the Palazzo Pitti is hosting three pieces from their extensive and varied collection of tapestries as a preview of the soon-to-be-established Museum of Tapestries, destined to go where the closed Museum of Carriages is currently located.


The Sala Bianca exhibition, titled “Three Tapestries for the New Museum,” brings together three exemplary works representing a wide geographical and chronological range: a Flemish tapestry from the 1540s, a Florentine piece from the 1560s and 70s and a French piece from the 1660s. The Flemish tapestry from Antwerp depicts Adam and Eve. It was designed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, who belongs to a generation of Flemish artists who were heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance. This can be seen in certain elements of the tapestry, such as the low, bright horizon and Eve’s pose, similar to Michelangelo’s depiction of the same subject in the Sistine Chapel.


Flemish Tapestry


The second tapestry comes from Florence’s own school and represents a hunting scene. It was once part of a collection originally containing 28 pieces (only 16 remain today) that was intended to decorate 20 rooms across the Villa of Poggio a Caiano, the Medici’s hunting residence outside Prato. Created between 1566 and 1577, the tapestry interestingly appears to value the method and environment for hunting over depicting the actual prey, as it prominently highlights the guns being loaded in the foreground and the moment just before the first shot in the background, while the boar itself is confined to the trees.


Florentine Tapestry


The final tapestry was made by the Gobelins Manufactory in France as part of an effort to brainstorm iconographic programs celebrating the Sun King. This particular scene represents Water, part of the Four Elements series, created by Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Neptune and Amphitrite dominate the scene; the latter holds in her hands a shield decorated with the sun and royal insignia, while the ships covered in shells, harpoons and tridents allude to the French monarchy’s aspirations to rule the sea.


French Tapestry


Details about the new Museum of Tapestries are scarce, but it is known that the museum will feature a continuous rotation of the nearly 1000 tapestries belonging to the Florentine collection, most of which have been held in storage and rarely revealed until now.

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