Christ ascends to Heaven and Man is redeemed before God (Cristo asciende al Cielo y el Hombre se redime ante Dios)
This colourful tapestry narrates how Man achieves redemption and Vices are pushed into Hell thanks to the Resurrection of Christ. Saint Gabriel the Archangel, who seeks the ruin of Vice, stands out among grotesque demons.
If a man dies, shall he live again?
One seated figure on the left side clarifies the contents of the picture through an inscription reading ‘Putasne mortu[us] ho[mo] rursum vivat’ (If a man dies, shall he live again?), a quote from the Book of Job (14, 14). The answer lies in the Resurrection of Christ, who ascends to Heaven once his messianic labour is completed, thus culminating the redemption of Man.
The central scene of the tapestry represents the moment when the Saviour ascends; his footprints are shown on the ground to remove any doubt. He leaves behind the earthly world, where the twelve apostles and the Virgin remain, in order to be received in Paradise by a choir of angels and patriarchs next to God the Father and the Holy Ghost, represented as a man here. To enhance the Ascension, a legend placed on the border reads ‘CELOS PENETRAT’.
Three pacts entered by God with Jacob, Saint Peter and the Church are represented on the top left part, establishing divine resolve on human redemption. On the top right, the Trinity appears as three crowned figures with a sceptre in front of which Man shows himself redeemed, so induced by the Grace of the Lord and surrounded by the Virtues, identified by their names.
Below, on the right, a man shows a phylactery reading ‘Iuxta e[st] dies p[er]ditionis’ (their day of disaster is near), Deuteronomy 32, 35, although the sign says ‘MOYSES XLV’. The omen of ruin is for the Vices, which are identified by their names – Lust, Guilt, Gluttony, Wrath – and pushed into hell by Saint Michael the Archangel where they are surrounded by bizarre daemons. However, the border inscription ‘INFERN[US] ULULAT’ (Hell resounds with grief and screams) clarifies that the Avernus is meant.
There were two copies in Spain until the 19th century: the one in Palencia and the one which belonged to the House of Alba, which was put on sale in Paris in 1877 by the Duke, and to be found nowadays in Kasteel De Haar, Haarzuilens, Holland.
Series Human Redemption or Vices and Virtues
Ninth tapestry in the series (fourth of those kept in Palencia)
Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, c. 1510
Size 425 x 800 cm
Fabric Silk and wool, 7 warps per cm
Location Cathedral of Palencia
Origin A bequest by Bishop Fonseca, 1527
Exhibition Chapter House