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Tapestries for the Courts of Federico II, Ercole, and Ferrante Gonzaga, 1522-63 cover
  • ISBN: 9780295975139
  • ISBN10: 029597513X

Tapestries for the Courts of Federico II, Ercole, and Ferrante Gonzaga, 1522-63

by Brown, Clifford M.

  • List Price: $50.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publish date: 02/01/2005
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Tapestries were among the most costly works produced during the Renaissance. In the sixteenth century, workshops in northern Europe and in Italy wove intricate and beautiful tapestries that were acquired by the nobility as reflections of their wealth and prestige. The Gonzaga family of Mantua and Guastalla had one of the most splendid collections of these wall hangings, rivaled perhaps only by the papal collection and that of the Medicis. Clifford M. Brown has exhaustively researched archival material in Mantua and Parma in order to document the tapestries commissioned for or purchased by the sons of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este. In addition to archival documentation (the transcriptions of which have been checked by Anna Maria Lorenzoni), Guy Delmarcel has provided stylistic and iconographic analyses of the surviving tapestries, fifty-two of which have been discovered in collections in Italy, Belgium, France, Portugal, and Great Britain. All of the known Gonzaga tapestries are illustrated, eleven of them in full color. Among the notable tapestry sets that were owned by the Gonzagas are the celebrated Acts of the Apostles, two versions of the Puttini (as well as a fragment from a projected third set), the Cephalus and Procris series, and two versions of the Life of Moses. A detailed examination of the patronage of the Gonzaga family provides a glimpse into the artistic and commercial world of tapestry weavers and their patrons. A chronology provides an overview of the lives and art patronage of the three Gonzaga brothers, Federico II, Ercole, and Ferrante. This is followed by publication of seventy-eight archival documents, drawn principally from the holdings of the StateArchives in Mantua and Parma. Included are correspondence, records of payments, and inventories. Finally, seven surviving Gonzaga tapestry sets are catalogued and discussed by the authors, who provide an in-depth analysis of the tapestries on stylistic and iconographic grounds. Comparative illustrations further document the tapestries. The Gonzaga tapestries take their themes from the Bible (Moses and Acts of the Apostles) and ancient mythology (Cephalus and Procris). They relate the Gonzaga family to warriors (Fructus Belli) as well as to dreamers of a secular paradise (Puttini). They were woven in the most famous workshops of Brussels at its heyday: Willem de Pannemaker, Jan van Tieghem, Frans Gheteels, and by the best Flemish weaver, Nicolas Karcher, who worked in Italy and who was destined to play an important role at the Medici court in Florence.
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