The group of four tapestries from La Seu Vella, all with mythological themes, do not make up a “formal” series; rather, they are lone pieces which possibly originate from other series. However, they are presented as one series – albeit a fabricated one – not only because of their thematic similarities (all are based on ancient classical myths and accounts told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses) but also because of their stylistic ones. All of the tapestries were produced by workshops in Brussels close to one another – indeed, if not all from the same workshop – and with cartoons which have been identified with the same artist, Jan van Roome, in a style still deeply rooted in the Northern Gothic tradition. All of the tapestries possess narrow and colourful borders which depict uninterrupted sequences of branches and bouquets of flowers linked together with foliage.
These tapestries came into possession of La Seu Vella, Lleida, thanks to a donation by Bishop Jaime Conchillos (1512-1542), documented in 1536. It was made up of “cinco panyos de raz” (“five panels from Arras”), four large and one small, which were held in the house of the Bishop of Zaragoza. It is believed that at least the two tapestries from the Story of Mestra series come from this donation. It is possible that the tapestry which has been identified with Queen Dido was part of this donation as well, since originally it was a much larger composition than the one we see today, as we can tell from the extant old graphic material. We cannot rule out either that the tapestries depicting the months of October, November and December were also part of this collection of large tapestries. The first of these pieces is now held by the Museu Castell de Peralada in Girona, while the latter two – which used to be just one tapestry in La Seu Vella, Lleida – are currently in the Toms Collection in Lausanne, Switzerland.
C. Berlabé, “Los tapices de la Seu Vella. Un recorrido por la colección” in X. Company and I. Puig (eds.), El arte de la tapicería en la Europa del Renacimiento. I Seminario internacional sobre tapicería y Artes Textiles, Lleida: Universitat de Lleida, 2010, pp. 85-106.
C. Berlabé, “Las colecciones eclesiásticas de tapices del siglo XVI en el entorno de la Corona de Aragón. El caso de la catedral de Lleida” in F. Checa and B.J. García (eds.), Los triunfos de Aracné. Tapices flamencos de los Austrias en el Renacimiento, Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2011, pp. 117-145.
VV.AA:“Els Tapissos de la Seu Vella” in Tapissos de la Seu Vella, Barcelona: Fundació “La Caixa”, 1992
VV.AA: La col·lecció de tapissos de la Seu Vella de Lleida, Barcelona: Fundació “la Caixa”, Museu de Lleida: diocesà i comarcal, 2010
Models Jan van Roome
Manufacture Brussels, 1510
Composition Silk and wool
Location Diocesan and Comarcal Museum of Lleida
Origin La Seu Vella, Lleida