Michel Demoortel acquired this Enghien tapestry in 2007 and donated it to the King Baudouin Foundation. Tapestries that can be attributed with certainty to the workshops of Enghien are rather rare and Michel Demoortel’s generosity has enabled this tapestry to be kept in the town of its origin, where it is now exhibited at the Maison Jonathas.
The subject of the tapestry is the hero of antiquity, Hercules performing one of the twelve labours set for him by King Eurystheus. Hercules, recognizable by the Nemean lion skin he is wearing, is fighting the dragon Ladon. Ladon guarded the entrance to the garden where the Hesperides, daughters of Atlas, watched over the tree of golden apples, Jupiter and Junon’s wedding gift to Zeus. Hercules had to steal the apples.
The labours of Hercules were a favourite theme for tapestries and such works were produced by several tapestry workshops in the former Netherlands. This tapestry no doubt formed part of a series, although the remaining tapestries have yet to be located.
Hercules killing the dragon in the garden of the Hesperides is one of the rare Enghien tapestries to have been signed, in this instance on the lower left in a wide border decorated with flowers and fruit, where the escutcheon of the town of Enghien, accompanied by the letter N can be seen, whilst on the right, the workshop’s monogram can still be partially seen.