Divine Art

Today I went to the Art Institute of Chicago to see a tapestry exhibition entitled The Divine Art, Four Centuries of European Tapestries. The exhibition has 70 pieces on display that underwent a 13 year restoration process.
This piece below is one of 14 dedicated to telling the story of Caeser and Cleopatra, entitled
The Battle of Actium from The Story of Caesar and Cleopatra, c. 1680

I think I enjoyed following the Caesaer and Cleopatra story the most.

I loved this one above as well entitled;
The Meeting of Jacob and Rebecca, and Isaac Blessing Jacob, from The Story of Jacob, 1560/68
It tells the story of the twins Jacob and Esau in which their mother, Rebecca explains to Jacob how to steal the birthright of Esau. She cooks two goats for Jacob to offer to Isaac in exchange. Issac, being blind mistakens Jacob for Esau and bestows him with his twin brother's birthright. What I find to me most interesting in a lot of these tapestries, as in this one, is how a narrative is told using the fore, middle and backgrounds to show the passage of time or the progression of the story. In this piece, the tale begins with Rebecca and Jacob in the foreground, she explaining to her favorite son what he must do. We see in the middle ground Jacob pretending to be Esau kneeling at the bed of the blind Isaac while Rebecca offers him goats meat in return for Esau's birthright. And in the background we see Esau hunting with his hounds having no knowledge of his mother and twin brother's scheme.

The tapestries, I learned today, are highly sensitive to light and air. A very low light must be used so as not to damage the color in the weave.
During the 14th and 15th centuries commercial and chemical dyes had not been invented yet, each tapestry's color is derived naturally from plants.
On view for three months the tapestries will then be stored in the museum to 'rest' for a period of three years. For each month a tapestry is on display it must be stored for preservation for as many years at it was on display in months.

On view At AIC from November 1, 2008-January 4, 2008
Herron ClothierComment