Scène de la vie d’Alexandre

laine, soie (tapisserie sur métier) H. 311 cm ; l. 386 cm
inv. 897
legs Marmottan Paul (testateur) (1932 acquis)
At the turn of the 16th century, Brussels established itself as the new capital for the production of quality tapestries enriched with gold and silver thread. Its workshops gradually supplanted those of Flanders and northern France, which had supplied the finest pieces over the preceding period. As monumental artworks, these tapestries were not only spectacular pieces of furnishing but were also conceived by the weavers as genuine “narratives in wool” that could relate a story over several pieces. That is the case with this tapestry showing a scene from the life of Alexander the Great. A paragon of virtue and morality, Alexander emerged as one of the most popular secular heroes of the 15th century. Wearing a helmet, with laurels on his brow, he is shown here in the foreground, giving orders to his generals. He reappears several times in the background, directing his troop formations. The richly decorated borders are comprised of allegories set amidst arabesques of flowers and fruits. The Musée Marmottan Monet has four of the tapestries from the narrative cycle, each one relating an episode in this conquest of the east and portraying the military prowess of the king of Macedonia.