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Romantic English

The Triumph of Fame over Death RE347783

The Triumph of Fame over Death RE347783

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The Celebrated Victory of Fame Over Death

Crafted in the Southern Netherlands around the early 16th century, this majestic tapestry unfurls a grand spectacle: a procession of white elephants majestically drawing a chariot. Upon it, the winged embodiment of Fame, attired in sumptuous brocade and resplendent ostrich feathers, blows her trumpet, announcing the presence of four illustrious figures: the venerable philosophers Plato and Aristotle alongside the legendary sovereigns Alexander the Great and Charlemagne. Alexander, distinguished by a golden scepter crowned with a symbolic hand among other regalia of French royalty, and Charlemagne, adorned with the Holy Roman Emperor’s crown and the French fleur-de-lys, are portrayed in their regal splendor. Beneath this celestial parade, figures representing Death are subjugated underfoot.

This scene draws its inspiration from "The Triumphs" by Petrarch, the 14th-century Italian laureate whose work, by the year 1500, was rendered in French for King Louis XII and depicted in the royal tapestries. The tapestry in question, part of a series once adorning the Château de Septmonts—the esteemed residence of the Bishops of Soissons—was likely commissioned by Bishop Symphorien de Bullioud, a connoisseur of Italian culture, who engaged in diplomatic missions to Rome and Milan under the patronage of Louis XII.

Tragically, the tapestry is truncated at its crown, yet a solitary remnant of its original inscription, "By her power as a lady of consequence," cryptically alludes to the intricate allegory of Triumph that it celebrates.

The Triumph of Fame over Death RE347783

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