Louvre: Tapestries "The Hunts of Maximilian"

When you are in the Richelieu wing on the first floor which shows the decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the 19th c. you must visit the large room 19 of the Renaissance section.

Here are hanging 12 of the most beautiful tapestries in the world called the "Hunts of Maximilian". Archduke Maximilian of Habsbourg, later emperor of Austria was the brother of Emperor Charles V (Charles Quint born in Gent, Belgium) who in that time had his palace in Brussels. He liked to go hunting in the forest of Soignes (still existing) just outside Brussels. The 12 large (about 5 x 7 m) tapestries show scenes of hunting at the 12 months of the year.

The picturesque, realistic and detailed landscapes show, in the back ground, the still existing abbey of Rouge Cloître, the village of La Hulpe and the town hall of Brussels.

The inspiration is from the Italian renaissance, the technical mastery is that of the painter and cartoon designer Bernard van Orley and the weavers from Brussels (ref. my tip on Brussels tapestries at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Cinquantenaire, Brussels).
They were manufactured between 1531 and 1533 probably by Guillaume Dermoyen.
The "lissiers" tapestry weavers used two type of weaving loom: the horizontal loom called "basse lisse" and the vertical one "haute lisse". In both case the weavers worked on the back side. It has been calculated that one "lissier" would weave about 1 square meter in one month!

Although ordered by the Habsbourg, in the 16th c. they belonged to the French Ducs de Guise, then Mazarin and King Louis XIV. These tapestries contain gold wire but fortunately escaped the destructions of the French revolutionaries.
The French Manufacture des Gobelins made a number of copies of the original tapestries around 1700.

These 12 marvellous tapestries are very well presented in the large room 19.
It is sad that so few visitors of the museum stop here to really look at them.

  • Address: Wing Richelieu, 1st floor, room 19
  • Directions: Métro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre




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