PARIS, circa 1640.
Probably workshop of Raphaël DE LA PLANCHE.
Wool and silk
(7 warp yarns per centimeter)
254 x 205 cm
The arms of France and Navarre are hung from a red pavilion with tied back curtains on a blue background decorated with fleurs-de-lis. The fleurs-de-lis of France (azure with three gold fleurs-de-lis) and the chains of Navarre are topped by the royal crown, and the “L” for Louis, flanked by an olive branch and a palm leaf, is located below the arms. The whole is surrounded by the collars of the Order of Saint Michael created by Louis XI, and the Order of the Holy Spirit created by Henri III, within a crown of laurels hung by an azure ribbon.
The border has a rich decoration. The upper corners are decorated with two medallions adorned with two lambdas, the Greek letter equivalent to L. The double lambda was used by Louis XIII. In the upper border, a female mask topped two crossed scepters, which are flanked by roosters, symbol of France, and fruits and flowers, symbols of affluence. Foliaged scrolls of acanthus with blue bows and several fruits and flowers are depicted on the side borders, along with two scepters forming a V, olive branches, a double reverse crowned L, and two dolphins put side by side on a stone base resting on a candlestick made of two acanthus leaves. Two crossed snakes, symbol of carefulness, coil themselves up the candlestick, holding up two swords together.
In the center of the lower border, a cartouche with a double crowned lambda on a blue background is depicted, flanked by roosters and cornucopias.
The double lambda and the dolphins put side by side in the borders confirm a dating circa 1640. The lambdas, which were represented on the Pavillon de l’Hologe at the Louvre built by Jacques Lemercier in 1639, clearly evoke the King Louis XIII; the dolphins are an allusion to the birth in 1638 of the dauphin, Louis-Dieudonné, the future Louis XIV.
The shimmering colors and the refined weaving of this tapestry are in favor of an attribution to the workshop of Raphaël de La Planche, installed on Rue de la Chaise in the Faubourg Saint-Germain since 1633. In his wife’s post-mortem inventory, dated from 1661, painted models with the arms of France and Navarre are mentioned. Besides, Michel Corneille seemed to reserve his models of tapestry for Raphaël de la Planche, who came from a dynasty of Flemish weavers. His father, François de la Planche – van den Planken –, native of Oudenaarde, partner with Marc Comans from Antwerp since 1601, set up in 1607 at the request of Henri IV, in a “une grande maison ou antiennement se faisoit teinture” (a big house where dyeing was previously made), which became the Manufacure des Gobelins. He had to create high-quality tapestries in order to compete with the Flemish production. In 1629, Charles de Comans and Raphaël de la Planche took over from their fathers but they splat up in 1633, with Comans staying at the Gobelins.