Artibus et Historiae no. 73 (XXXVII)

2016, ISSN 0391-9064

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EWA KOCISZEWSKA - Woven Bloodlines: The Valois Tapestries in the Trousseau of Christine de Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (pp. 335-363)

The aim of this paper is to provide a hypothesis concerning the commission, function and meaning of the celebrated Valois Tapestries. No documentary evidence indicating who ordered the cycle and why has so far come to light. However, on the basis of recent works on the patronage and collections of Catherine de Médicis a new interpretation can be proposed. It is known that the tapestries were taken in 1589 to Florence by Christine de Lorraine as a part of her trousseau. In the light of new research on Catherine de Médicis and her patronage, it seems plausible that the tapestries could have been commissioned by the Queen specifically for her beloved granddaughter. This assumption can be confirmed by careful re-examination of the vivid foreground portraits which represent the members of Valois and Lorraine houses. The tapestries can be thus seen as a woven genealogy of Christine de Lorraine – the proof of her royal lineage. This ‘gallery’ of portraits of her family and allies, shown in a portable and prestigious medium, would have appeared particularly appropriate as a trousseau of a princess at a foreign court. The representation of the famous fêtes organized by Catherine de Médicis can therefore be interpreted on one level as evidence of the magnificence of her court. Knowing that queen used the festivals as an instrument of power, for Christine their depiction could have served as a reminder of the political training that she had received from her grandmother.

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