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  • Place of origin:

    Bruges (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1540 - 1555 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry woven in wool and silk on wool warp

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case WN

This long tapestry with three medallions surrounded with garlands bears the arms and motto of Giovio of Como on a mille-fleurs ground, enlivened with a variety of birds and animals. It is the finest example of its kind known. It was presumably intended to hang above wainscotting. Paolo Giovio was bishop of Nocera, but his motto 'fato prudentia minor' (wisdom is weaker than faith) is more Humanist than Christian.

Physical description

Tapestry woven in coloured wools and silks, covered with small flowering plants of many kinds on a dark blue ground. Amidst these are animals and birds, including a lion, a stag, rabbits and pheasants. Three circular medallions are disposed across the middle of the tapestry; each consists of a wreath of fruit, flowers and foliage enclosing a landscape (perhaps depicting the country round Lake Como). From the top of the wreath a shield of arms is suspended in front of the landscape and a scroll entwining the wreath bears a motto. The shield and motto are those of the Giovio family of Como. The borders display arms and armour, cornucopias, boys riding on grotesque dolpins, flowers and leaves.

Place of Origin

Bruges (probably, made)


1540 - 1555 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tapestry woven in wool and silk on wool warp

Marks and inscriptions

Arms of Giovio of Como

'Wisdom is weaker than fate'
Motto of Paolo Giovio of Como


Height: 218 cm, Width: 672 cm, Weight: 44 kg

Object history note

The tapestry was stated at time of purchase to have come from the Palazzo Giovio, Como . It was lent to the Museum by the Countess Lambertenghi in 1891 (see catalogue p.65). RP for loan : 1891/3988.

Historical significance: The tapestry is the finest example of its kind.
The borders of the tapestry are Italianate, with acanthus scrolls and grotesques with putti and masks and arms in the uprights.

Historical context note

This tapestry was presumably intended to hang above wainscotting. The pair to it belongs to Prince Liechtenstein at Schloss Vaduz. The arms of Giovio, of Como, were first borne in the generation of the family represented by the famous historian, dilettante and collector, Paolo Giovio (1483-1552) and his brother Benedetto (d. 1545). Paolo received from Pope Leo X a Knighthood and the Professorship of Rhetoric at the Roman University, and granted him, as augmentation to his arms, the Medici insignia as borne in quarters 1 -4. In 1528 another Medici Pope, Clement VII, elected Paolo Giovio to the See of Nocera dei Pagani (Naples).

Descriptive line

Tapestry showing the arms of the Family of Giovio; woven in coloured wools; Belgium (Flanders); 16th century.

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

Wingfield Digby, G F & Hefford, W., The tapestry collection: medieval and renaissance (London: H.M.S.O., 1980), pp. 47 - 48, pl. 58A & B
Adelson, Candace J., European Tapestry in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1994) pp. 111, pl. 48 - 50.
Delmarcel, Guy, Flemish tapestry (London:Thames & Hudson, 1999), p. 181 - 182, ill.
Delmarcel, Guy & Duverger, Erik, Bruges et la Tapisserie (Bruges: Louis de Poortere, 1987), pp. 197-201, ill.


Silk; Wool


Tapestry weave

Subjects depicted

Coats of arms; Flower; Laurel wreaths; Bird; Rabbit; Stag; Lion


Images Online; Textiles; Tapestry; Wall coverings


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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