It has been suggested that the tapestry illustrates a tale recorded or invented by the sixteenth century mythographer Natale Conti. According to Conti, there was an oracle combining the prophecy that the Trojan War could not be won without Achilles with an earlier prophecy forseeing Achilles...
It has been suggested that the tapestry illustrates a tale recorded or invented by the sixteenth century mythographer Natale Conti. According to Conti, there was an oracle combining the prophecy that the Trojan War could not be won without Achilles with an earlier prophecy forseeing Achilles death in the war. Here, Thetis is shown entering a hall or temple from the right, her right hand resting on the head of the nude young son who walks before her. A priest stands left of center behind an altar separating him from the boy Achilles, and the gestures over the flame. Two acolytes, each holding a lamp, flank the priest. A dead lamb lies on the floor before the altar; its body is partially obscured by a ewer and basin lying on a small covered table in the extreme foreground. Behind the figures rises a wall elaborately articulated with pilasters and a shell-capped niche. A proscenium-like border encloses the entire scene. It consists of a pair of terminal figures at the sides- the one at the left representing Minerva (War) and the one at the right Hercules (Strength), the two gods to whom the child was dedicated- supporting a cornice decorated with garlands of fruit grasped by putti. The small covered table and a pair of cornucopia, spilling palm and laurel branches, continue the enframement across the bottom. An oval cartouche in the center of the cornice above bears the following inscription : ACHILLES PVER A MATRE ADDVCITVR AD ORACVLVM ("The boy Achilles is taken to the oracle by his mother")
The Brussels mark appears woven into the lower center right outer guard. An additional weaver mark appears in the lower left corner of the tapestry - G.V.D.S.
Charles Mather Ffoulke is said to have purchased both this and The Anger of Achilles Against Agamemnon tapestry from an unidentified dealer in Munich (unpublished letters). The dealer did not specify the source, but stated that the tapestries came from a "royal house." Collection Charles Mather Ffoulke, Washington, D.C. Collection French and Company, New York. Collection George Robert White, Boston. Collection Mrs. Harriet J. Bradbury, Boston. Bequest of Mrs. Harriet J. Bradbury, July 3, 1930.
Bequest of Mrs. Harriet J. Bradlbury
Flemish, Probably third quarter of the 17th century