Esau and Jacob Series (Esaú y Jacob)

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Esau and Jacob Series (Esaú y Jacob)

The three pieces of the Esau and Jacob series tell the events narrated in Genesis, 25-36: the story of the children of Isaac, paying special attention to the reunion of Jacob and Esau. These tapestries, like the nine ones in the Book of Judith series, and some other with court and nature scenes, all belonged to the nearby church of Saint Stephen(presently without cult and united to the Church of Saint Nicholas of Bari). It accumulated more than 20 tapestries from donations, since some of them were decorated with the coats of arms of titled families from Burgos.

Alerted by rumours, Burgos’s Provincial Board for Monuments set in motion an investigation in 1928, afraid that the church might sell some of its tapestries. The fact was denounced to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, which also took interest in the matter. News even made it to the national mass media.

With the Church of Saint Stephen turned into a museum, opened in 2009, the parish has now joined that of Saint Nicholas, where the tapestries were and where they are now displayed.

The three tapestries from the Esau and Jacob series – all in different sizes, the first slightly smaller – all have the same border composed of vegetal elements, flowers and fruits, while the centre part of each side has medallions showing different landscape scenes. The lower ends show architectural pedestals with vases, while the upper corners exhibit lion heads from which bunches of fruits hang.

Other copies

The series dedicated to the patriarchs and characters of the Old Testament were very popular in the tapestry of the 16th century. Consequently, a series on Jacob was woven in Brussels around 1534 in the workshop of Willem de Kempeneer, designed by Bernaert van Orley, and in 1573 a series on the same theme was made for Princess Joan of Portugal. Nowadays, panels on this theme dating from the 16th century are kept in the Musées Royaux des Beaux Arts of Brussels, in the Uffizi of Florence, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in Powis Castle (Wales), and in the Art Institute of Chicago. In Spain, the Santa Cruz Museum of Toledo preserves a tapestry showing the meeting between Jacob and Esau.


Boletín de la Comisión Provincial de Monumentos Históricos y Artísticos de Burgos, Vol. 7, No. 22 (1928), pp. 277-280.

T.P. Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance. Art and magnificence, New York, 2002

S. Cortes Hernández, Tapices del Museo de Santa Cruz de Toledo, Toledo, 2010, pp. 18-20.

M. Crick-Kuntziger, Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire de Bruxelles, catalogue des tapisseries. XIVe-XVIIIe siècles, Brussels, 1956, pp. 42-44.

G. Delmarcel, La tapisserie flamande, Tielt, 1999.

Exposición de arte retrospectivo (exhibition catalogue), Burgos, 1926, p. 39.

L. Meoni, ‘Storie di Giacobbe’, in G. Giusti (dir.), La galleria degli arazzi. Epifanie di tessuti preziosi (exhibition catalogue), Florence, 2012, pp. 43-44.

Series Esau and Jacob

Models 3 cloths, 3 are preserved, 3 are exhibited

Manufacture Netherlands, 2nd half of 16th c.

Fabric Wool

Location Church of San Nicolás (museum opened in 2009)

Origin Church of San Esteban


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