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Gallery Text

Woven in wool, tapestries like these covered the walls of castles, acting as insulation from the damp and cold. They were also used as courtly decoration, their cost and display of aristocratic life indicating the owners’ high social status. In this tapestry, a company of noblemen sets out for the hunt, a patrician activity that followed established rules affirming social hierarchies. The figures, dressed in elaborate robes and fine hats, include one who is bearded and wears a turban, suggesting a connection to the Islamic world. The aristocratic men’s finery contrasts with the plain clothes of the peasants they meet on the right. It is not known for whom this tapestry was made, but it was probably woven in Flanders, perhaps in Tournai, a region famous for the production of these textiles.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Unidentified Artist
Hawking Scene
Textile Arts
Work Type
c. 1495-1515
Creation Place: Europe, Belgium, Tournai
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

319.4 x 296.2 cm (125 3/4 x 116 5/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Herbert Lee Pratt, New York. Emmet Blakeney Gleason, bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1959.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Emmet Blakeney Gleason
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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A hawking company emerges from a castle to set out on a hunt. Two noblemen are shown on horseback while three others are on foot. They hold up hawks, a hunting horn, a sword and a bow and arrow. In the right foreground we see peasants, one of whom has taken off his cap to greet the nobles. The landscape background features two rustics and cottages. The tapestry misses its original borders and it was likely cut down on all sides. The style, subject and landscape with milles-fleurs and elevated horizon are characteristic of tapestry production in Tournai around 1515.

Publication History

  • Phyllis Ackerman, The Rockefeller McCormick Tapestries: - Three Early Sixteenth Century Tapestries (New York, 1932), vol. 1, p. 11.; vol. 2, plate 27.
  • Jean-Paul Asselberghs, Tapisseries Héraldiques et de la vie Quotidienne, exh. cat. (Tournai, 1970), no. 20, repr. in b/w
  • Jean-Paul Asselberghs, Les tapisseries flamandes aux états-unis d'amérique, Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (Brussels, 1974), p. 16

Exhibition History

  • The World of the Middle Ages in the Thiebold Schilling Chronicle, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 10/07/1974 - 11/08/1974
  • 32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/12/2017

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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