TAPESTRIES, FURNITURE AND MAJOLICA (15th -17th C.) FROM THE STATE ERMITAGE IN ST. PETERSBURG ON DISPLAY IN THE CASTLE MUSEUM IN MALBORK (Tapiserie, meble i Mikolajki XV-XVII wieku z panstwowego ermitrazu w St. Petersburgu w . Muzeum w Malborku)
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The new international exhibition featured in the Castle Museum in Malbork (June-October 2004), entitled 'The Radiance of the Renaissance in a Mediaeval Castle', presents the applied and decorative arts from the collection of the State Ermitage in St. Petersburg. The display is composed of 65 exhibits from three great collections: the 25 tapestries were executed in Brussels workshops (14), Tournai or Aubusson (3), Antwerp or Brussels (1), France or Flanders (6) and Italy (1). The furniture - carved cassoni, cabinets, chairs, candelabra and chests - originates from Venice (3), Rome (1), Florence (1), North Italy (4), as well as unidentified Italian (7) and Parisian workshops (2). The Italian majolica was produced in Urbino (6), Castelli (2), and one each in Faenza, Deruta and Castel Durante. The historical and artistic value of the presented monuments is enhanced by the fact that many of them are connected with celebrated figures. One of the earliest tapestries - Wisdom (Brussels, end of fifteenth century) - is part of the Virtues series. In the Wedding of Mestra (Brussels, early sixteenth century), from the Story of Mestra series, the extraordinarily lavish costumes and jewellry worn by the depicted figures reflect the court of Margaret of Austria. The tapestry entitled Revelation of the Madonna ( Brussels, 1518), part of a series of four tapestries: The Legend of Our Lady of Le Sablon, is linked with the founder François de Taxis (1459-1517), head of the imperial post, and the lengthy and dramatic history of the four wall hangings, scattered, cut, sewn together and with frequently changing owners. The presented schemes are supplemented with inscriptions whose content corresponds to the origin of the cult of the Madonna of Le Sablon in Brussels. Four long Turin tapestries from the beginning of the sixteenth century display the Story of Christ and the Virgin Mary series, associated with Bishop Jacques d'Amboise and his commission from 1505-1516. The Seasons series of large wall hangings is a veritable masterpiece; two of the tapestries: Summer-Ceres and Autumn-Bacchus (Brussels, mid-sixteenth century) could be recognised as the highlight of the Malbork exhibition. The border around the fabrics, with a motif of intertwined ribbons, resembles an analogous element from the Wawel Arras tapestries. Two Ermitage tapestries: the Flood and Noah Performing a Sacrifice, were executed in Brussels during the second half of the sixteenth century in the Gulem van Cortenberg workshop. The models could have been cartoons by Michel Coxcie who sought inspiration in Renaissance works by Michelangelo and Raphael Santi.
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