Flemish Craftmanship for Spanish Nobility

The exhibition in the Del Prado museum in Madrid reconstructs the iconographic sequence of Ovid’s tale of the loves of Mercury and Herse, reuniting the eight tapestries on this story made by the Flemish Willem de Pannemaker, the most celebrated tapestry-maker of the Flemish Renaissance The panels are now divided between the private collection of the Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museo del Prado, all of which own two tapestries each, while the remaining two are in the private collections of the Casa de Alba and the Dukes of Cardona. Ovid’s story of love and jealousy, the main protagonists of which are Mercury, Herse and Aglauros, can be followed in the eight panels of this tapestry series. Mercury’s descent to earth, his encounter with Aglauros, Herse and Pandrosos (daughters of Cecrops, King of Attica), the seduction of Herse, and the transformation or metamorphosis of Aglauros, brought about by Mercury, are the key episodes in these panels. They are framed by splendid borders designed for the tapestry series of The Acts of the Apostles, which was based on designs by Raphael and made for the Sistine Chapel.