Bernard van Orley (workshop of)
Belgian, 16th century
The Feast of Tobit, Bisham Abbey Tapestries, c. 1530
wool, linen, cotton, jute
352 x 414 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Lord and Lady Gort
This tapestry is part of an impressive suite of tapestries, dating to around 1530, which were originally installed at Bisham Abbey, Buckinghamshire, England, a country estate belonging to King Henry VIII. The designs of the suite are attributed to Bernard van Orley, a Flemish artist who oversaw one of the most important tapestry manufacturers in Brussels. The five tapestries in the WAG’s collection illustrate the Apocrypha story of Tobit and the miraculous journey of his son Tobias in the presence of the archangel Gabriel. Told through a series of continuous narratives, the tale would have played out from one panel to the next, simultaneously enriching and enlightening their surroundings while bringing visual and actual warmth to cold, dimly lit palace rooms. As the official court painter to the Regent of the Netherlands, Margaret of Austria (1480–1530), van Orley introduced the principles of the Italian Renaissance in his work.