Early Flemish Tapestry Panel

Early Flemish Tapestry Panel


149 x 102 cm


This early Flemish tapestry panel dates to the second half of the 16th century.

It would have been part of a much larger tapestry and depicts a scene taken from the Bible: the Old Testament story of Jakob and Rachel as described in Genesis. Jakob flees to his uncle’s estate and meets and falls in love with his cousin, Rachel. His uncle requests that Jakob work  for seven years looking after his sheep before he can marry Rachel. Jakob agrees, with various twists to the story which are not part of this tapestry fragment. However, the scene depicted here is the moment Jakob meets the shepherds and together they lift the (very heavy) lid on the well to let the sheep drink. A large tapestry showing several scenes of the story, including the one depicted in the piece in hand, is in the National Trust Collections at Powis Castle, Powys. This scene is illustrated in the bottom left-hand corner of the tapestry, which is dated to 1550 – 1600 (see https://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1181017).

The composition is well balanced, with the three male figures in action around the well in front of a group of trees and a bridge and a castle to the left and in the background. Costumes and facial features are finely drawn. The quality of the colours, too, is remarkable, with the reds and blues in particular very fresh.

The panel in hand is worked in a tapestry weave in wool and silk, with some repairs in keeping with age. It has been backed with a good-weight linen and framed with a contemporary galon.