The Triumph of Cleopatra

Woven by Jan Le Clerc and Daniël Eggermans, based on the cartoons of Charles Poerson
2nd quarter 17th century

The Triumph of Cleopatra is one of eight tapestries from a suite dedicated to the famous Queen of Egypt. It was woven in Brussels by Jean Le Clerc and Daniel Eggermans, based on cartoons made by the French painter Charles Poerson (1609–1667). The tapestry is a magnificent example of the high quality wall hangings made in Brussels in the 17th century.

The tapestries woven in the Southern Netherlands between 1450 and 1750 were considered to be amongst the most beautiful and the most prestigious in Europe. In the 16th century, Brussels was the centre of production and reputed to be the most important as well as the best. The hangings that left its workshops enjoyed an international reputation, as well as playing a leading role in the city’s economy. The workshops of Jan Le Clerc and Daniël Eggermans, who made the Triumph of Cleopatra, were among these extremely dynamic and successful workshops based in Brussels until the 17th century. The weavers’ marks are visible on the lower border of this wall hanging.

The scene represents Marc Anthony and Cleopatra parading in a Roman chariot. Monuments in flames can be seen in the background. The composition is surrounded by a lavish border of flowers and is typical of Brussels tapestries from the 17th century. A great number of series featured episodes from the lives of important female figures, a theme much in vogue during this period.

The cartoon was made by the French painter Charles Poerson. Other series featuring historical characters are also attributed to Poerson, notably the stories of Moses, Clovis, Titus and Vespasian, all of which are imbued with the classicism that was so dear to him. The acquisition of this tapestry by the Raphaël and Françoise Haeven Fund has enabled a gap to be filled because the Art & History Museum, which has the most important collection of tapestries in Belgium, did not have a tapestry of this type in its collection.

Thanks to the Raphaël and Françoise Haeven Fund, administered by the King Baudouin Foundation, this superb wall hanging can be admired by everyone at the Art & History Museum in Brussels, from June 1st 2018.

The work interacts with a suite of tapestries that tell the story of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra that were woven on the basis of cartoons made by a contemporary of Poerson, the Flemish painter Juste d’Egmont (1602-1674). His more theatrical style forms a marked contrast with Poerson’s classicism.

Material / technique: 
Wool and silk
375 x 505 cm
Type of acquisition: 
Acquired by the Raphaël and Françoise Haeven Fund
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Art & History Museum, Brussels