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The March; The Art of War

  • Object:

    Tapestry

  • Place of origin:

    Brussels, Belgium (made)

  • Date:

    1718-1724 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Judocus de Vos (weaver)
    Philipp De Hondt, born 1683 - died 1741 (probably, designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry woven in wool and silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Josa Finney, in memory of her husband, Oswald James Finney

  • Museum number:

    T.283-1972

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Download image

The use of tapestry hangings to commemorate military exploits has a long history. For Renaissance audiences battles were often depicted full of violence and slaughter, but the 17th century saw the emphasis move towards a celebration of the glorious commander, and the nobility of the victor. An exceptional example was set with the series Histoire du Roi woven for Louis XIV at the Gobelins in France from the 1660s, with scenes including his military victories. In the 1690s, a series of scenes of army life was woven in Brussels, designed by Lambert de Hondt for Elector Maximillian Emmanuel of Bavaria and subsequently commissioned by others including King William III; a document recording his purchase in 1700 provides its name, “d’Exercitie van den Oorloghe”, usually translated as the Art of War.

This tapestry is from a second series of The Art of War dating from the early 18th century, woven by de Juducos de Vos and probably designed by Philipp de Hondt. It is believed to be from a set of that subject which was made for Augustus the Strong of Saxony.

Physical description

Tapestry woven in wool and silk and framed in borders of military trophies with at centre top a larger trophy of flags and lances surmounted by trumpets crossed through a laurel wreath. The lower trophy is of saddles, bundles, harness, trunks and riding boots.

In the centre a group of mounted officers attended by messengers and servants, one a black African, and following them is a long file of mounted men and foot soldiers winding across the distant plain. The commander of the army is mounted on a white horse and holding a baton, and leads the foreground group. Watching the scene on the ground at the left are a countryman and a woman nursing a child.

Woven with 20 warp threads to the inch.

Place of Origin

Brussels, Belgium (made)

Date

1718-1724 (made)

Artist/maker

Judocus de Vos (weaver)
Philipp De Hondt, born 1683 - died 1741 (probably, designer)

Materials and Techniques

Tapestry woven in wool and silk

Dimensions

Width: 6180 mm, Height: 4191 mm

Object history note

Mrs Finney first offered the group of seven Art of War tapestries to the museum, in memory of her husband, Oswald J Finney, in April 1962. They were then under sequestration in Alexandria (Mrs Finney was resident in Rome). The tapestries were released and sent to Rome in 1971. They were received by the Museum in July 1972.

The tapestries had been purchased by Mr Finney for his house in Alexandria some time in the late 1920s or 1930s. Mrs Finney remembered that her husband became interested in the tapestries when some of them were shown at an exhibition in America, and that a dealer in Paris was commissioned to acquire them. Hefford explains that the seven Finney tapestries appear to have been acquired in at least five separate transactions.

The first 'Art of War' series was designed by the tapestry cartoon painter Lambert de Hondt and woven in the Brussels workshops of Jerome Le Clerc and Gaspar van der Borght. This tapestry is from the second series woven by de Vos and probably designed by Philipp de Hondt. Some sets of the second series include scenes and figures borrowed from the cartoons of the Marlborough Victories at Blenheim Palace.

Five of the 'Art of War' tapestries belonging to Mr Finney are believed to be from the set of the second Art of War which was made for Augustus the Strong of Saxony, and was formerly at Dresden. Hefford sets out in detail the justification for this attribution. 'The March', 'The Camp' and 'Cutting Fascines' were illustrated in Ackerman's publication on the Dresden tapestries in 1926. 'The Siege' and 'The Ambush', not known to Ackerman, appear to be part of the same set, which is noted in the Marillier tapestry catalogue, anecdotally quoting Bernheimer, to have been of eight pieces. Of the two further pieces from Dresden illustrated by Ackerman, 'The Halt' is now in the National Museum, Warsaw, and the tapestry after 'Blenheim' was sold at Sotheby's, London, in 1964. It is now in the Toms collection, Lausanne. The eighth, missing piece may have been similar to Marlborough's tapestry of 'Malplaquet' for the Dresden set was known as 'Die Schlachten bei Höchstädt und Malplaquet'.

Historical context note

The use of tapestry hangings to commemorate military exploits has a long history. While for Renaissance audiences battles were often depicted full of violence and slaughter, the seventeenth century saw the emphasis move towards a celebration of the glorious commander, and the nobility of the victor. An exceptional example was set with the series Histoire du Roi woven for Louis XIV at the Gobelins in France from the 1660s, with scenes including his military victories. In the 1690s, a series of scenes of army life was woven in Brussels, designed by Lambert de Hondt for Elector Maximillian Emmanuel of Bavaria and subsequently commissioned by others including King William III; a document recording his purchase in 1700 provides its name, “d’Exercitie van den Oorloghe”, usually translated as the Art of War.

One of the other purchasers of this first version of the Art of War series was John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. He later owned another series of tapestries depicting military scenes, this time his own victories in the War of the Spanish Succession. The relationship between them and a second version of the Art of War series was the subject of an important study by Alan Wace, incorporating research carried out in the 1930s, but published posthumously in 1968. Following the gift to the V&A of seven Art of War tapestries in 1972 from Mrs Josa Finney, Wendy Hefford undertook further research on the design and relationship between the different series, published in 1975 (see bibliography) .

Descriptive line

Tapestry 'The March' woven in wool and silk, from 'The Art of War' series, probably after Philipp De Hondt, woven by Judocus de Vos, Brussels, 1718-24

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

Hefford, Wendy, 'Some problems concerning the Art of War tapestries' in CIETA Bulletin no. 41-41 (1975) pp.105-116.
"The two tapestry series known as The Art of War and the set representing the battles of the First Duke of Marlborough form an unusually complex group of interrelated tapestries. They were reviewed and their order largely established in a fundamental work by the late Alan Wace [see ref], a study first made in the 1930s, [which] was prepared for publication by Mrs Helen Wace and published by the Phaidon Press in 1968. Four years later a magnificent gift of seven Art of War tapestries was made to the Victoria and Albert Museum by Mrs Josa Finney in memory of her husband Oswald James Finney. These tapestries were mentioned in Wace's book, p.108, among the surviving sets of the second Art of War series, but could not be examined there in detail owing to the sequestration of the tapestries in Egypt and lack of photographs."
Wace, Alan, The Marlborough Tapestries at Blenheim Palace (Phaidon, 1968)
(from p.108, Other Sets, no. XII) : In Alexandria, Egypt, in the private collection of Mrs Oswald Finney, is a group of six panels which belong to this general series and bear certain resemblances to the Dresden set of Augustus the Strong ( no. 1 above). They consist of : Campement ii, Fachinade ii, Embuscade ii, Pillage ii, La Marche ii, and Attacque (influenced by the Blenheim Oudenarde). These all have trophy borders. With them is La Halte, which originally had a picture-frame border and belonged to another set.

(from p.103, Other Sets, no. I : At the Royal Palace in Dresden, before the First World War, there was a set of five, acquired by Augustus the Strong, King of Saxony, with whom Marlborough had some dealings. Saxon troops, in fact, fought at Malplaquet, but not at Blenheim. These tapestries were sold in 1926 to the firm of Magraf, in Berlin. [footnote : Phyllis Ackermann, Tapestries illustrating Scenes from the War of the Spanish Succession (a Margraf brochure): cf Saxe, International Studio, vol.87 (August 1927) p.74. All five panels were shown by Margraf at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition in 1926.] {nb Hefford notes that only four were shown in Philadelphia}
The most important of them is a version of the Blenheim Palace Hooghstet...This panel was sold at Sotheby's in 1964 [footnote : sold on February 14th 1964 (lot 22) to a London dealer].
The remaining four subjects all belong to the Second Version of the Art of War (cf the Schleissheim set, figs 54-61), and consist of : Campement ii, Fachinade ii, La Marche ii, and La Halte. The borders correspond to those at Schleissheim, and two of the panels bear the signature of J de Vos.
Ackerman, Phyllis Five tapestries in the collection of Margraf & Company...from the collection of the King of Saxony (n.d., ca. 1926)
Jeri Bapasola, Threads of History : The Tapestries at Blenheim Palace (2005)
Gisele Eberhard Cotton, general editor, The Toms Collection, Tapestries of the Sixteenth to Ninetheenth Centuries, 2010, cat. no. 45
This entry by Guy Delmarcel describes The Surrender, also from the set belonging to Augustus the Strong.
Patterson, Angus, "Power and Glory", Chapter, Medlam, Sarah, and Miller, Lesley Ellis, Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum, V&A Publishing, London, 2011, pp. 54-55

Exhibition History

Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600-1800 from the V&A (National Museum of Korea (Seoul) 02/05/2011-28/08/2011)
Tapestries for the nation - acquisitions 1970-1980 (01/10/1980-31/01/1982)

Labels and date

In 1972 Mrs Josa Finney gave to the Museum in memory of her late husband Oswald James Finney seven Brussels tapestries with a common theme. These were the Art of War tapestries which Mr Finney had collected from different sources. Among his seven purchases were five Art of War tapestries from one of the leading sets of this series, made by Judocus de Vos for Augustus the Strong of Saxony, an opponent of the Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession who, by a quirk of fate, purchased around 1718-20 a set of tapestries which included the figures of Marlborough and his officers at their moment of greatest triumph winning the Battle of Blenheim. The five tapestries which Mr Finney purchased from the Saxony set included the subjects of The March, The Siege, The Ambush, The Camp, and Cutting Fascines. To these he added two more pieces from the same set of cartoons, though not from the same set, Pillage and The Halt. Besides their importance as an appreciable augmentation of our early 18th century Brussels tapestries, these pieces give a fascinating picture of warfare and campaigning at the time of the War of the Spanish Succession.
All seven tapestries were displayed in 1973-75, and five featured in an exhibition entitled War and Peace in 1977, and were shown again in the following year. Unfortunately lack of space in this exhibition prevents the present display of more than two piece, for the proportions of this magnificaent gift would exclude most of the other exhibits. [October 1980]

Techniques

Tapestry

Categories

Textiles; Tapestry; Wall coverings; Black History

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O248828
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