Past Exhibition: Rediscovered Tapestries

Two Rediscovered Tapestries

March 19, 2002

After an initial preview last summer, visitors were again able to enjoy two eighteenth-century tapestries woven by the Brussels workshop of Peter van den Hecke (c. 1752). Displayed in the Music Room, these rare hangings are important for their state of preservation, the significance of their design, their royal provenance, and the evidence regarding the identity of their maker and manufacture. They depict scenes from Cervantes' novel Don Quixote de la Mancha, which proved to be an important literary source in the fields of fine and decorative arts for over two hundred years.

Each tapestry retains a separate linen rectangle sewn to its reverse and inscribed with an inventory number corresponding to the French royal registry. That registry reveals that these were two of several hangings of this subject belonging to Louis XV. Henry Clay Frick bought them in Spain in 1909 and later gave them to Childs Frick, his son, who bequeathed them in 1965 to The Frick Collection. The tapestries remained in storage at the Frick until 1999, when they were cleaned and treated at the Textile Conservation Laboratory of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan.

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