Maison Jonathas, Enghien.
In creating a Fund within the King Baudouin Foundation, Michel Demoortel’s wish was to protect and promote the heritage of Enghien. Donated to us by Michel Demoortel in 2008, this exceptional Enghien tapestry is of particular interest because it bears the monogram of the town of Enghien and the marque of the workshop of Philippe van der Cammen (PVC). The central theme represents, in the heart of a Renaissance park, a hunting party and exotic animals, two favourite 16th century themes.
The tapestry was woven between 1575 and 1600, a period of great prosperity for the production of tapestries in Enghien. It was around 1575 that, in parallel to the “verdures” tapestries (featuring luxurious greenery decoration with flowers and plants that met with great success), a new manner of representing nature appeared: that of a forest landscape characterized by the play of light and shadow among the leaves. Noble huntsmen partook of their favourite sport, here that of falconry, in a clearing in the midst of a forest. Hunting was a popular hobby among the rich landed nobility.
High in the sky, on the narrow band of the horizon, the falcons can be seen hunting down a heron. Several men follow the assault on foot and on horseback and try to lure back the falcons, using perches, or by shaking around themselves cords to which bait is attached. In the foreground, animals from far-off countries add a touch of exoticism that was highly valued at the time. In the background can be seen elegant pavilions, pergolas and other constructions. In the tapestry borders, flowers and fruit alternate with allegorical and mythological figures.
This is the largest of a series of four tapestries, the remaining three being in a private collection. They represent a castle, wild animals near to a spring and other animals in a forest. They are all decorated with similar borders and bear the monogram of the same weaver.