RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
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Rare Tapestry of a French Noblewoman
A unique tapestry of a woman of nobility from 1580 - 1610.
It was love at first sight! I rescued her over 30 years ago but I still don't know her name.
The tapestry was in terrible condition when I discovered. It is worn, faded, filthy and damaged. Part of the border is missing. It's been through hell over the last 400 years and I wanted to save it from certain destruction. When I first discovered this amazing piece, it was draped over a chair to display it for sale. When I moved it to get e better look, I could hear threads popping and the bottom was part was very bad and falling apart. Gravity alone was damaging this rare old tapestry and if I had not bought it and saved it from the handling of the general public, it would have soon been in pieces. It's a shame that was already damaged so badly.
It already had damage from being hanged by nails and it was weak at the top and bottom. I knew it was fragile and that it was being damaged just being handled by anyone. It is a relic but I knew it was special the instant I saw it and I was immediately fascinated and moved by the beautiful and interesting woman holding the Lily. I had to rescue this special piece of history from any further damage! It has been so mistreated and abused, its faded and has stains, it's tattered at the bottom. I knew that its own weight would continue to cause damage without some kind of added support. I'm not a textile conservationist but I had to do something to prevent further damage. I hand sewed wool backing to support the top and the bottom, to lessen the gravitational stress on the weakest points. I then carefully worked some small nails between the fibers and the backing in order to fasten it to a board so that it could be hung up and kept flat. I know it deserves better attention than I can give it but at the time, I had to do something to keep it from getting worse. Most of the time I've had it, it's been rolled up and stored. I've used photos to do research. Unfortunately, after all this time I still don't know who she is.
I believe it's a tapestry commemorating her husband's death or funeral.
Is she a Queen, Princess, Duchess, Countess or an historically important person.?
She seems to be a woman of importance and wealth from 1580 - 1610 period.
The coat of arms is unidentified and so she remains a mystery.
Who is this mysterious and fascinating woman?
Rare Tapestry 1600 - 54" X 75" (1370cm x 1900cm)
RESEARCH IN PROGRESS
Description of the woman:
Her red hat is styled similar to a crown with gold design, jewels and a plume.
A row of large pearls over her forehead. Two necklaces of large pearls and large pearl tear drop ear-rings.
Her dress has several gold fluer de lis on a blue background and is embellished with ermine.
She is standing on a pedestal.
She holds an ornate jeweled purse with a shield design, the strap is attached to her dress,
She is holding an Iris in her hand. (Sometimes symbolizing grief.)
Her expression is as if she is mourning. Her eyes are not looking at the viewer, but instead looking as if lost in thought.
This style of cuffs, underproper and open sleeved cloak, ear-rings were typical of French, Midici, Nobility, styles around 1600.
Other objects in the tapestry include:
Unidentified notched coat of arms, a simple shield with (3 early fluer de lis)? (water)? (Label - First son)? I don't know much about heraldry.
An unidentified tattered Forked Pennon, Pennoncelle, Pensellflag mounted on a Lance with tassels,
A Pennoncelle, or Pensell: the diminutive of the pennon, pointed flag. (supposed to be mounted at the end of a lance at funerals)
A pageantry helmet with wings and a garter,
A ribbon with an unknown motto,
Several forms of Lilies,
Cross shaped flowers,
The colors are faded but standard or flag has blue and possibly red stripes,
the jousting helmet, garter, coat of arms, the Lilly in her hand, the plant and flowers with 3 pedals and the ribbon with a motto, all hold clues to the origins of this rare tapestry. I think her hat may give important clues too.
The coat of arms is still puzzling me. I'm still researching. I am not an expert in heraldry so I am asking for help to identify this tapestry, this woman or anything else about it that can be identified.
If you can offer any information that might help with this task, please let me know. It would be appreciated!
I believe it's wool and it has flat Gold thread or strands woven into the weave.
There are several styles of stitching in the designs, (see close up photos).
After 400 years, it has obviously been abused. Approximately 2 inches missing from the bottom.
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