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Tapestry - The infant Moses tramples on Pharoah's crown
  • The infant Moses tramples on Pharoah's crown
    Poussin, Nicolas, born 1594 - died 1665
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The infant Moses tramples on Pharoah's crown

  • Object:

    Tapestry

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (designed)
    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1683-1687 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Poussin, Nicolas, born 1594 - died 1665 (painter)
    Gobelins (manufacturer)
    Moses

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry woven in wool, silk and metal thread

  • Museum number:

    T.150-1965

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery, case SC2, shelf EAST SIDE

This hanging is part of the tapestry series The Story of Moses, after paintings by Poussin and Le Brun, which was woven in the Manufacture Royale des Gobelins, the first set started in 1683. Its weaving was part of an artistic programme intended to spread the theory of painting promoted by the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. The Moses series was the first at the Gobelins to be derived from oil paintings which were not specially designed for tapestry or radically adapted for this purpose.

Poussin's painting of The Infant Moses Trampling on Pharoah's Crown, from which this tapestry is derived, was purchased by Louis XIV for the Cabinet du Roi (now in the Louvre). Its translation into a large-scale tapestry woven hanging enabled the appreciation of Poussin's work in a more ostentatious way suitable for court spectacle, incorporating expensive materials including gold thread in the weaving (the painting measured 92 x 128 cm, the tapestry 363 x 480 cm). The set was woven six times, and the V&A's piece is thought to have come from the third set (completed in 1687), given by Louis XV to his brother in 1716.

Physical description

Tapestry woven in wool, silk and metal thread. The tapestry depicts the infant Moses trampling on the crown of the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh reclines on a couch with his daughter sitting in a chair at its end. At Pharaoh's feet lies his crown, which the young Moses is treading on. A female attendant is clutching the child, while another restrains a man behind the couch who is brandishing a dagger. A landscape can be seen through a wide window to the right, and the rest of the background is filled by a huge red and yellow highly patterned curtain. Marble pillars mark the left and right edges of the scene. Four men to the left and three women to the right stand in attitudes of alarm, flanking the central group.

The borders of the tapestry are missing. A modern galloon had been attached, but was removed before cleaning in September 2012.

Place of Origin

Paris (designed)
Paris (made)

Date

1683-1687 (made)

Artist/maker

Poussin, Nicolas, born 1594 - died 1665 (painter)
Gobelins (manufacturer)
Moses

Materials and Techniques

Tapestry woven in wool, silk and metal thread

Dimensions

Height: 2980 mm maximum, without galloons, to turned edge, Width: 5250 mm maximum, without galloons, to turned edge, Height: 3015 mm maximum, with galloons, Width: 5380 mm maximum, with galloons, Weight: 41 kg

Object history note

Purchased from Saffron Walden Museum Society.

Descriptive line

Tapestry 'The infant Moses tramples on Pharoah's crown' woven in wool, silk and metal thread, after Nicolas Poussin, woven at the Gobelins workshops, Paris, 1683-1687

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fenaille, Etat general des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins, vol.II, pp.186-199.
Pascal-Francois Bertrand, "A Question of Scale : Was It Necessary to Weave Poussin's Paintings ?", in T.H.Campbell and E.A.H.Cleland eds., Tapestry in the Baroque : New Aspects of Production and Patronage, The Metropolitain Museum of Art Symposia, 2010.
George Wingfield Digby and Wendy Hefford, A Poussin Tapestry from the Gobelins, Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin 3 [1967], pp.111-17.

Wingfield Digby and Hefford note that the cartoon for this tapestry was prepared by de Sève le Jeune. While the first two weavings were made on high warp looms, the third set to which ours is thought to belong was made on a low warp loom, by the workshop of Jean de la Croix. The subject is reversed from the first (high warp) weavings, which happens when the same cartoons are used - formerly at the Gobelins special cartoons were prepared for the low warp looms to obviate the reversal, but this was no longer done, for reasons of economy. Our tapestry is believed by them to have had the same border as the first, high warp set.
Poussin et Moïse : du dessin à la tapisserie, catalogue and exhibition at Villa Medici, Rome, Galerie des Beaux Arts, Bordeaux, and Galerie des Gobelins, Paris, 2012.

Materials

Wool; Silk; Metal thread

Techniques

Tapestry

Categories

Tapestry; Textiles; Wall coverings; Religion

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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