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The Judgement of Paris

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©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The story told within the central cartouche comes from classical Greece. The shepherd Paris, son of Priam, king of Troy, was asked to award a golden apple to the most beautiful of the three goddesses Hera, Athena, Aphrodite. Each offered him a gift. Here Paris is shown extending the apple - but to which lady? And where is the third?  

Below the picture is the inscription


The source of the tale is given above


Immediately below the picture to left and right are the initials, HI.

A wide selection of flowers surrounds the scene, including hyacinths in bud and in flower, lily of the valley, mallow, primrose, cyclamen, convolvulus, strawberry, pinks, stocks, gillyflower, poppies, pansy, rose, iris, marguerite, lilies and a dandelion.

The vertical borders were filled with large gourds and fruit, heads of marguerites, narcissi, and, oddly, peas in a pod packing the spaces in between. The horizontal borders show roses, poppies, pomegranates, cherries, apples, plums, pears and quince.

The cartouche was copied from an architectural manual by Clement Perret, published first in 1569.

Four other tapestries very similar in design were found with this one at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire. They tell the Biblical story of Tamar, who seduced her father in law, Judah. Like this one, the episode on each tapestry is enclosed in the same cartouche and is identified by lettering to indicate the story, again naming its source, Genesis 38. Two tapestries carried the initials MI and EI; two of them read WI and EI.

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It was assumed, because these tapestries were found in the house still standing at Chastleton, built by Walter Jones after 1606 and only some ten miles from Barcheston, that they must have been woven there. The fact that one tapestry with a woven date, 1595, is earlier than Jones' acquisition of the property in 1602, was ignored. It should have made people wonder.  


10 feet.10 inches x 11 feet.10 inches; 3.25 m x 3.60m Wool

Museum number T.310-1920

Detail ©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London


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