The composition uses architectural motifs as its elements. The motifs have been arranged in three sets of parallel strips, two sets placed horizontally at the top and bottom to form borders, and the third set placed vertically to form borders, and the third set placed vertically to form the main...
The composition uses architectural motifs as its elements. The motifs have been arranged in three sets of parallel strips, two sets placed horizontally at the top and bottom to form borders, and the third set placed vertically to form borders, and the third set placed vertically to form the main field of the tapestry. This suggests the appearance of a wall divided into bays by shallow pilasters which carry an entablature and rest on a continuous tripartite base. The cornice of the entablature shows egg-and dart molding. The frieze shows shields bearing the arms of Orleans surrounded by the Collar of the order of Saint Michael for Charles d'Orleans, Count of Angouleme, alternating with shields displaying the arms of Orleans impaling Savoie for his wife, Louise de Savoie. A coronet indicating the rank of count surmounts each shield. Between the shields appear symmetrical ornaments composed of acanthus leaves, urns, and blossoms. The architrave of this tapestry-woven entablature shows pairs of wings tied in pairs. The wings refer to Louise de Savoie: they form a pun on her initial (aile for L) and symbolize her motto: ‘'you have given me wings, I shall fly and I shall find repose." Also, the crest of the House of Savoy was a lion's head surmounted by a pair of wings. Each of second band shows symmetrical arrangements of cornucopiae, urns and acanthus leaves; and the lowest strip shows a band of ghilloche ornament. Each of the three wide bays of the field shows three lush wreaths of leaves, flowers, and fruits containing alternately a salamander in flames surmounted by a scroll inscribed with the motto NVTRISCO ET EXTINGO ( I feel and extinguish). The salamander as it appears here was the emblem of Jean D' Angouleme , grandfather of Francis I , as well as that of Francis himself. The cypher has been interpreted variously, as follows: C ( Charles ), K ( karolus), L ( Louise), A ( Angouleme), O (Orleans), L (Louise), S( Savoie), R ( Romarantain). Four pilastres decorated with slender balustrated colonnettes border the wide bays. Small rectangular cartouches bearing the initials C and L hang near the top of each colonnette. Lower down, among the balusters, pairs of children wearing classical draperies hold cornucopiae or single flowers. In the units farthest at the left and also third from the left, pairs of little angels holding coronets or shields displaying the Orleans arms appear in the lower part of the colonnettes. Bordering the pilasters there are wide guards of dark blue decorated with white cords tied into love knots and bent over at the top to suggest the letter L ( Louise ). The love knots also appeared as an important motif in the chain or collar of the Order of the Collar of Savoy, instituted about 1355 by Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy, and kept as an element in the collar when Amadeus VIII changed the name of the Order to the Order of the Annunciation in 1432.
Until about 1925, Château de la Bellière, La-Vicomté-sur-Rance, Ille-et-Villaine, France [see note 1]; between about 1925 and 1935 sold, possibly by A. de la Bellière and others, to Raphael Stora, Paris and New York [see note 2]; 1936, sold by Stora to the MFA for $17,000 (Accession Date: January 9, 1936) NOTES:  According to information provided by Stora the tapestry is said to be "From the collection of the Marquis de Savoie Querignan (descendant of Louise de Savoie)." In a short essay entitled "A Very Fine and Unique Tapestry of the XV. Century," apparently written and supplied by Stora, the tapestry is said to have been found "in a loft of the Chateau de la Belliere a la Vicomte sur Rance, by the last heir. It was used as an accessory for Italian comedy in the 18th century, as an ornament in the room of the castle where the productions were given. The castle was inhabited by one of the ancestors of the heir, who had been Governor of Savoy." According to a published paper delivered by M. Gustave Dupont-Ferrier at the annual public meeting of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, November 22, 1935, entitled "Origine et signification de la salamandre ornementale dite de François 1er," the tapestry was exhibited after its discovery at the Château de Blois, Loir-et-Cher, France; no further information on this exhibition has been discovered. At the time of publication, it was said to be "currently [at the] boulevard Haussmann," probably with Stora. In 1973, when the piece was included in the exhibition "Chefs-d'œuvre de la tapisserie du XIVe au XVIe siècle," organized by the Grand Palais in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Alain Erlande-Bradenburg in the "Bulletin de la Societe de l'Histoire de l'Art Francais," noted (probably erroneously) that the tapestry was discovered in the attic of the "château de la Tournerie, à Mantilly, dans l'Orne."  A hand-written note in curatorial file, probably by MFA curator Gertrude Townsend, lists Monsieur A. de La Belliere, Monsieur Raymond de Maleziere, Roger de Maleziere, and H. de Sangy as the "people from whom Stora bought tapestry."
Charles Potter Kling Fund