Illustrious Origins | A Mythological Tapestry from the Gobelins Workshop

Illustrious Origins | A Mythological Tapestry from the Gobelins Workshop

The Fine Interiors department are extremely excited to be able to present a Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, lot 328, in our 19 and 20 March sale.

27 February 2024

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This impressive and notable tapestry depicts Cupid and Psyche seated on a bed to the right of the scene, flanked by two figural columns supporting a rich textile drapery and garlands of flowers. Two putti stand at the foot of the bed removing Psyche’s shoes and a third adorns her hair. Two female attendants are pictured behind the bed, one holds out a basin pouring water into which Psyche washes her hand, another stands just behind preparing a cloth to dry her. On the left, Hymen approaches the couple holding a lit torch aloft; he is accompanied by two cherubs, one of which holds a basket of flowers on their head. In the far background in a woodland clearing, a group of satyrs are seen sacrificing a wild boar.

 

Provenance: Private commission from Gobelins Manufactory, Paris; The Shelswell-White Collection, Bantry House, Co. Cork, Ireland; acquired in a private sale from the above; a private collection, thence by descent to the present owner.

Provenance: Private commission from Gobelins Manufactory, Paris; The Shelswell-White Collection, Bantry House, Co. Cork, Ireland; acquired in a private sale from the above; a private collection, thence by descent to the present owner.

 

The source material for this present example can be traced to a series of drawings, at the time attributed to Raphael and owned by King Louis XIV of France, which are known to have influenced at least seven series of tapestries woven by the Gobelins manufactory from the 1680s, three of which were made for especially for Louis XIV. Examples of tapestries from series other than our own can be found in the Palais de Compiegne, the Louvre and the Mobilier National, Paris; the sixth series may be represented by a piece known to have been owned by the Duke of Alba in the 1960s. From the eight subjects within the set, the present example seems to be entirely based on a drawing in the Louvre (inventory number 3482, illustrated in Fenaille, fig.24, pl. facing p.248); described as school of Raphael, now attributed to the school of Giulio Romano. This was a recognised scene at Gobelins, where, in a 1690 inventory, it was called L’himen de Psiche et de l’Amor (Fenaille, p.268). The first weaving of the tapestry is in the Chateau de Pau (right half ) and the Chateau de Rambouillet (left half ); the second weaving is in the Chateau de Compiegne (now on loan to the Museum of Besancon), and the third in Vienna.

 

A Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

 

Edith Appleton Standen in her book ‘European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in the Metropolitan Museum’ references an eighteenth-century weaving from a private commission in the Shelswell-White collection at Bantry House. This tapestry, depicting ‘Cupid and Psyche Bathing’ after a fresco by Giulio Romano in the Sala di Psiche of the Palazzo del Teat Mantua, is pictured in the Drawing Room at Bantry in Irish Houses & Castles by Desmond Guinness and William Ryan, published 1971, next to the present example. The two tapestries share the same monogrammed border and it is reasonable to assume they from the same privately commissioned set.

The collection of furniture and art at Bantry House has been written about with great renown, thanks entirely to the second Earl of Bantry, Richard White (1800-1868). Succeeding his father in 1851, he travelled frequently throughout Europe as far as Russia and Poland, enthusiastically adding to the collections that occupied his recently enlarged home, so much so, that it has historically been remarked upon as ‘the Wallace collection of Ireland’. The collection’s crowning glory was its tapestries, including a seventeenth-century set, Dutch in origin, as well as examples from the premier French workshops of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Aubusson, Gobelins and Beauvais, comprising a particularly beautiful set of rose-coloured Aubusson tapestries said to have been made for Louis XV in celebration of Marie Antoinette’s marriage to the Dauphin of France and hung at Versailles.

 

A Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

 


 

Tuesday 19 & Wednesday 20 March | 10am

fineinteriors@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

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