18th C. Gobelins tapestry of Marriage of Cupid and Psyche scheduled for March 20 sale in UK

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A Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche
A Louis XV Gobelins mythological tapestry of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

STANSTED MOUNTFICHET, U.K. – An important tapestry made at the French royal factory in Gobelins is the featured highlight of Sworders‘ Fine Interiors auction on March 19-20. The monumental weaving depicting the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche, which will be offered on Day 2 of the auction, is expected to sell for £25,000-£35,000 ($31,850-$44,585). 

The 457cm wide x 335cm high (179.9in x 131.9in) tapestry is thought to be part of a series of at least seven works owned by Louis XIV that were based on Raphael drawings of mythological subjects. The first sets known as Les Sujets de la Fable d’après Raphaël (The Subjects of the Fable after Raphael) were woven by the Gobelins manufactory from the 1680s.   

This particular image depicting Hymen, the God of marriage, approaching Cupid and Psyche seated on a bed, is based on a drawing in the Louvre that today is attributed to school of Giulio Romano. It is referenced in a Gobelins 1690 inventory where the scene was called “L’himen de Psiche et de l’Amor.” 

Some other versions are known. The first weaving of the tapestry (now divided into two pieces) is in the Chateau de Pau and the Chateau de Rambouillet; the second is in the Chateau de Compiegne (now on loan to the Museum of Besancon), and the third in Vienna.  

Sworders’ tapestry is thought to have been a private commission made in the 18th century. It was previously part of the Shelswell-White Collection at Bantry House in Country Cork and was photographed there alongside another with the same monogrammed border in the early 20th century. 

The Bantry House collection was formed by the second Earl of Bantry, Richard White (1800-68), who traveled frequently throughout Europe as far as Russia and Poland, enthusiastically adding to the collections that occupied his recently enlarged home. The collection’s crowning glory was its tapestries, known to include a set of Aubusson tapestries that are said to have been made for Versailles in celebration of Marie Antoinette’s marriage to the Dauphin of France. 

Sworders has significant experience selling tapestries. The firm sold a group of 19 weavings from the celebrated collection at North Mymms in April 2018 for £750,000 ($955,425). 

For more information, visit Sworder online at https://www.sworder.co.uk

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