“The eight sixteenth-century tapestries representing Catherine de Medici and her family observing courtly festivities, collectively known as The Valois Tapestries, are amongst the most important Renaissance tapestries surviving today. Probably springing from the imagination of the celebrated court artist at Fontainebleau, Antoine Caron, the tapestries were certainly created in Brussels, the most admired weaving center in the sixteenth century. Their designs enjoy a cleverly playful spatial complexity, uniting distant panoramas with figures so close to the picture plane, and so carefully observed, that they seem to inhabit the actual rather than the woven realm. In these tapestries, the subtle twist of a head or sight-line of a glance balances the bombast of spectacle viewed from afar. In their subject matter, The Valois Tapestries capture the pageantry and excess of the French court; amongst the protagonists depicted is a veritable portrait gallery of the royal family of France. Their monumental scale (each piece over 14 square meters) epitomizes this monumental art form at its most audacious. Woven only once, this is the unique edition of this extraordinary series”.
Elizabeth Cleland is the Associate Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her primary responsibilities are in the area of post-medieval European tapestries in the Met’s Collection.