This is a rare Brussels tapestry by the well known maker, Ian Van Leefdael around the year 1640. On the lower right border, we see his signature, along with a B B, which signifies Brabant Brussels. In 1528, it became a requirement for workshops to weave in the initials of the towns in which they were made. Brussels was the capitol city of the Duchy of Brabant (became part of the Dutch Republic in 1648). Ian Van Leefdael tapestries can be found in museums and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Metropolitain Museum of Art (The Set of Antony and Cleopatra along with G Van Der Strecken), Chateau de Jehay Belgium, and more.
What makes this particular tapestry unusual is the depiction of farm animals, specifically cows being milked in a wooded setting. There is a rich array of trees, branches with vines of ivy and open areas of sunlit and shaded land where they are milking the cows. To the bottom left, is a man with a kettle transferring the milk into a larger urn being held by a woman. To the right, is a woman in the process of milking another cow, and in the distant center portion, is more forest and cows lying down in the shade. The tapestry is woven in rich colors of teal, blue, dark green, light ochre, cream, beige, browns, oranges and more.
Another important design element of this tapestry is the magnificent, wide border full of finely woven details (border is original). The bottom left and right corners of the tapestry depict fabulous stone pedestals with lion’s heads on the front. In their mouths are rings with material draped through them which then leads into the beginning of the bottom border. The material attaches to garlands of fruit on either side of a jardiniere of beautiful flowers at the center. Continuing up either side from the top of the pedestals are putti holding beautiful double handled vases displaying a variety of flowers and foliage. Above this are cartouches with more flowers, foliage and fruit. At the very top of these cartouches, is another draped putti standing on a globe with what appears to be rays of fire. The top border somewhat mimics the bottom border with different motifs. The garlands connect to a central cartouche having a rope motif around a cabochon at the center. Several of these motifs can be seen in other borders of Van Leefdael tapestries.
CONDITION: Good condition with some minor separations, loss of color to some threads, faint old fold mark along center, and general wear commensurate with age of approximately 375 years. Backing along borders as well as 3 full length vertical sections.
H=139, W=128, D=3/8
A Rare 17th Century Brussels Tapestry by Ian Van Leefdael