Tapestry of Diana by Le Gobelins

Manifattura GOBELINS; cart.: PERROT, Pierre-Josse (attivo 1724 - 1735) - CAZES, Pierre-Jacques (1676 - 1754) - DESPORTES, Alexandre (Champigneulles 1661 - Paris 1743); arazz.: de LA TOUR, Louis-Ovis; Portiera in arazzo: Diana (allegoria della Caccia); lana e seta; cartone: 1727; arazzo: 1728 c.; Palazzo Apostolico Lateranense; Appartamento Pontificio

Inventory Number: 43808

The tapestry of Diana was woven between 1728 and 1740 based on the design of Pierre-Josse Perrot. In this genre of tapestries, Roman gods were frequently included as allegorical representations of the seasons and elements. The first of these tapestries were woven at Gobelins in 1700 and were based on designs prepared in 1699-1703 by the ornamental design painter Claude III Audran and his collabora- tors. They later continued to be replicated for a good part of the 18th Century up until the outbreak of the revolution. The cycle contains eight scenes dedicated to eight pagan divinities meant to personify the seasons (Venus-Spring, Ceres-Summer, Bac- chus-Autumn, Saturn-Winter) and the elements (Diana-Earth, Juno-Air, Jupiter-Fire, Neptune-Water). The various subjects of the tapestries were replicated countless ti- mes between 1700 and 1789 in compliance with a sizeable request from the French court as well as commissions from other European buyers. 237 tapestries created in various Gobelins workshops during the 18th Century have been documented. The Vatican tapestry must have been created in the workshop of Luis-Ovis De La Tour circa 1734 or in the workshop of Audran and Monmerquè sometime between 1734 and 1740. This particular piece was woven based on a novel design by Pierre-Josse Perrot that is starkly different from his previous artwork. In August of 1748 the Duke of Nivernois received four tapestries of Diana upon his departure to Rome. The Va- tican tapestry most likely is one of these. Considering that the Roman deities Juno, Cybele, and Pluto were most often associated with the earth cult, it is uncommon to see Diana personify this element. Here, the presence of Diana transforms this scene into a celebration of the hunt, which was a popular pastime of the nobility during the time period. Meanwhile in the other versions, the goddess of the hunt is featured in the center of the tapestry, seated on a cloud with her legs turned towards the left. She is easily recognizable by the bow she holds in her hand. In the tapestries woven from the designs of Perrot, Diana typically appears in a central roundel, surrounded by three female figures who carry her trademarks: dogs and a quiver. The lower zone contains two female figures at the sides that hold the other two attributes of the goddess. Between them there is a hunting trophy consisting of a deer head and weapons, beneath which are two dogs. The central scene is surrounded by a precious and fragile architectural structure that is decisively not classical. There is a sort of pavilion that accommodates, from the base to the top, decorative elements including animals, garlands, and other objects. At the four sides the French lily is present. This piece is expected to be returned on display in the Room of Solomon in St. John in Lateran of the Lateran Palace.