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Romantic English

1468 Grand Medieval Tapestry: Myth of Bellerophon the Golden Goblet RE415188

1468 Grand Medieval Tapestry: Myth of Bellerophon the Golden Goblet RE415188

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I invite you into the rich tapestry of mythology, where the tale of Bellerophon unfolds across a series of five mesmerizing panels. Among these, a particular panel captures a moment steeped in the lore and grandeur of ancient times: Bellerophon, graced by the hospitality of King Proetus of Argos and his Queen Anteia. This isn’t merely a depiction; it’s a narrative split into compartments by the delicate interplay of branch and column-like motifs, each section a chapter in its own right.

 At the heart of the scene, seated in regal splendor, are King Proetus and Queen Anteia, ensconced amid luxurious textiles, their realm a vibrant millefleurs, a testament to the richness of their court. Here stands Bellerophon, cloaked in red, a figure of courage and legend, attended by courtiers offering the bounty of a chalice, its cover, and beaker, beside a golden ewer resting on the dais—a throne wrapped in exquisite textiles.

 Venture into the corners of this tableau, and you'll find narratives within narratives. From the top left, traverse the width to discover Queen Anteia and her ladies-in-waiting, each group engaged in the leisure of the court—feasting, reading, sewing—a life of elegance and refinement. And there, a central gathering of male courtiers, spectators to the scene below from their balcony perch, framed by columns that stretch the tapestry’s height, encapsulating the grandeur of this moment in time.

 This panel, once adorning St Luke's Chapel in Norwich Cathedral, is a testament to the artistry of the early 1500s—crafted from wool, with the luminance of coarse silk thread illuminating the white, while the once bold black outlines have yielded to time’s embrace. Woven between 1500 and 1515, it is not just a piece of art but a fragment of history, inviting us to marvel at the intersection of myth and craftsmanship.


David Harrison


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