The Hail Series (La Salve)

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The Hail Series (La Salve)

This is a set of four tapestries of remarkable size dedicated to the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen). Like those of the Redemption of Man, they arrived at the cathedral as a bequest of Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, although two years later because they had to be brought from Flanders. The bishop invested the considerable amount of 150,000 maravedís in the hanging, but did not live to see his commission finished because he died in 1524. However, he had arranged for the task to be finished and delivered to his former see; this was fulfilled by his brother and executor Antonio de Fonseca, comptroller of Castile.

A Marian iconography

The Marian theme was highlighted at the time of the delivery of the series to the cathedral in 1529: ‘four tapestries recounting the Salve Regina which cost 400 ducats...’. Subsequent inventories repeat the same name ‘Story and Lyrics of the Salve Regina’, or simply, ‘Salve Regina’. These words appear in a phylactery placed at the feet of the Virgin in the first of the four pieces. The topic is infrequent in this kind of work, but reflects the devotion of Bishop Fonseca, who left ‘a record of the Salve as said by the bishop’, according to documentation of the cathedral of 1527.

One last commission

The prelate commissioned the tapestries at the end of his life. They were probably not finished until 1528, four years after his death, because the mark B▼B (Brussels in Brabant) can be seen on the selvage of three of the tapestries, and this mark was not compulsory until that year. There is no doubt about the commissioner, because the escutcheons of the bishop are repeated in the border, woven with the lettering ‘SI DOMINVS REGIT ME NIHIL MIHI DEERIT’.

In Heaven as on Earth

The four tapestries show figures in two separate heavenly and earthly planes, with the Virgin present in all of them, surrounded by angels or next to the Trinity. The lower part shows different characters praying and singing praises against an elaborate background landscape.


The monograms of the weaver seem to correspond to those for Marc Crétif, documented as being in the service of Francis I of France. Indeed, the decorative plant border is very similar to that of the Triumphs of Petrarch (National Heritage Series 38) by this weaver.


E. García, “Los tapices de Fonseca en la catedral de Palencia. II. Tapices de la Salve”, Boletín del Seminario de Arte y Arqueología, Vol. 14 (1948), pp. 189-203.

J. Yarza Luaces, “Dos mentalidades, dos actitudes ante las formas artísticas: Diego de Deza y Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca”, in J. J. Martín González (dir.), Jornadas sobre la catedral de Palencia, Palencia, 1989, pp. 105-142.

L. S. Iglesias Rouco, “Tapices de la Salve”, in Las Edades del Hombre. Memoria y esplendores (exhibition catalogue), Palencia, 1999, pp. 144-149.

Series The Hail

Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, a possible manufacture by Marc Crétif, c. 1528

Fabric Silk and wool, 7 warps per cm

Size 412/429 x 646/660 cm

Location North branch of the crossing in the cathedral of Palencia

Origin A bequest of Bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, they arrived at the cathedral in 1529


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