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The Voyage of a Prince

Photo: Susan Cole

The Voyage of a Prince

commissioned in 1717

Judocus de Vos

Flemish, Brussels, 1661-1734

This tapestry is part of a suite of four European chinoiserie tapestries that depict imaginary interpretations of life in Asia. The tapestries feature magical scenes of exotic figures clothed in flowing robes and elaborate headdresses, fantastic animals, botanical studies, and purely imaginative flights of fancy. This suite of Flemish tapestries was commissioned for the Duke Leopold-Philippe d'Arenberg's residence in Brussels in 1717, when it was fashionable for wealthy Europeans to create rooms evoking an exotic, foreign atmosphere. In addition to strange winged creatures and a crocodile, this tapestry is inhabited by snakes. The iconography of many of these miniature scenes is not yet known, but we do recognize symbolism in several--a boy shakes a branch of coral at a snake that is winding its way up a tree to ward off evil, and a man rides a crocodile, which is an ancient symbol of fertility.
Wool, silk, metallic threads
106 x 87 1/2 in. (268 x 218 cm)
Gift of Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Endowment for the Decorative Arts, Anonymous, General Acquisition Fund, Mildred King Dunn, Richard and Betty Hedreen, Decorative Arts Acquisition Fund, Margaret Perthou-Taylor, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, Ann Bergman and Michael Rorick, Mr. and Mrs. David E. Maryatt
2002.38.2
Provenance: Purchased from Galerie Chevalier, Paris, France, 2002; Christie's London to Galerie Chevalier, 2000; d' Arenberg inventory (probably 1905)
Photo: Susan Cole
location
Not currently on view

Tapestry Scenes

The whimsical scenes on the Seattle Art Museum's four chinoiserie tapestries are woven against a black background, which is unusual. Black is one of the most difficult and transient of textile dyes. Through the years, this background color has changed to a chocolate brown. The background is wool, and the colorful threads that make up the scenes are silk. The metallic threads that appear black are tarnished silver. Because they are interwoven with silk and wool threads, it is impossible to restore them to their former glistening state.

Media

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Julie Emerson, Former Ruth J. Nutt Curator of Decorative Arts, Seattle Art Museum, describes four chinoiserie tapestries

Resources

Published ReferencesCampbell, Thomas, editor, "Tapestry in the Baroque, Threads of Splendor, The Metropolitan Museum of Art"; 2007, pp. 449

Wauters, Alphonse, "Les Tapisseries Bruxelloises - Essai Historique sur les tapisseries et les tapissiers de haute et de basse-lice de Bruxelles"; 1878, pp. 351 et 352

Delmarcel, Guy, "Flemish tapestry"; 1999, p 370

Wace, Alan, "The Marlborough tapestries at Blenheim Palace and their relation to other Military tapestries of the War of the Spanish Succession"; 1968, Londers-New-York

Brosens, Koenraad, "The Duke of Arenberg's Brussels Chinoiserie Tapestries by Judocus de Vos, Filo Forme"; 2004, n. 9, p 3

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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