Meticulously woven by hand with wool, silk, and gilt-metal thread, the tapestry collection of the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, represents the highest achievements of the art form. Intended to enhance the king's reputation by visualizing his manifest glory and to promote the kingdom's nascent mercantile economy, the royal collection of tapestries included antique and contemporary sets that followed the designs of the greatest artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, including Raphael, Giulio Romano, Rubens, Vouet, and Le Brun. Ranging in date from about 1540 to 1715 and coming from weaving workshops across northern Europe, these remarkable works portray scenes from the bible, history, and mythology. As treasured textiles, the works were traditionally displayed in the royal palaces when the court was in residence and in public on special occasions and feast days. They are still little known, even in France, as they are mostly reserved for the decoration of elite state residences and ministerial offices.
This catalogue accompanies an exhibition of fourteen marvelous examples of the former royal collection that will be displayed exclusively at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from December 15, 2015, to May 1, 2016. Lavishly illustrated, the volume presents for the first time in English the latest scholarship of the foremost authorities working in the field.