The History of Hannibal Series (La Historia de Aníbal)
The five cloths of the series narrate episodes from the military deeds of the Carthaginian general Hannibal. The scenes feature spectacular figures of people and animals, framed by a wide border of 50/55 cm based on fruits and vegetables. In a banner on the top part, several Latin inscriptions recount the events.
A series dedicated exclusively to Hannibal is not common. The Carthaginian hero generally appears by his enemy, Scipio Africanus, who, as the winner of the war, becomes the main character in the tale. In this series, however, the only protagonist is Hannibal and his victories.
The series must have been comprised of eight cloths, five of which are kept in Zamora: Hannibal’s oath, The crossing of the Alps, Hannibal in Italy, The plunder of Cannae and Mago, Hannibal’s messenger, in Carthage. A sixth cloth kept in the castle of Chaumont, The taking of Saguntum, was part of a replica of Zamora’s series.
The tapestries were woven in Brussels, as shown by the mark B▼B on the selvage. The mark of the weaver is also there, but it has not been deciphered to this date. We know that he worked in the time of the weaver François Geubels, the late 16th c., and that they worked together, because his mysterious mark appears next to Geubels’ in the series History of Romulus and Remus, kept in Vienna.
The author of the cartoons has not been ascertained either. Without a doubt, he was an Italianized painter from the Netherlands, probably from the circle of Michel Coxcie. His shapes are lacking in expression but they are monumental and rich in coloring.
Considering the bordure, in which the figures are inserted among the vegetables and the fruits, the series has been dated c. 1570.
There is no precise documentation about the date of entry into the cathedral of Zamora. It has been argued that they belonged to the precentor Jacinto Varas y Vázquez, who presented the cathedral with eight “Historical” tapestries in 1772. However, they could have been there since the early 17th c., since “twenty tapestries of fine wool and old history” are documented in 1620.
MARTÍN AVEDILLO, F., Los tapices de la catedral de Zamora, Zamora, 1989.
ASSELBERGHS, J.-P., Los tapices flamencos de la catedral de Zamora, Salamanca, 1999.
Name of the series The History of Hannibal
Cartoons anonymous master of the Netherlands
Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, c. 1570
Fabric Wool and silk, 6,5/7 warps per cm
Origin In the cathedral since the 17th c.
Location Cathedral of Zamora (Cathedral Museum)