The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries

The Devonshire Hunting Tapestry: Falconry, 1430-1440, probably made in Arras, France, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. Detail.


The Victoria and Albert Museum acquired the tapestry set in 1957 from the house of The Dukes of Devonshire. The estate probably first belonged to the Countess of Shrewsbury (known as “Bess of Hardwick”). Bess built Hardwick Hall, part of the Derbyshire house, in the 1590s.

During the medieval and Renaissance periods, tapestries were valued more than traditional works of art. Although they took time to make, they were easy to transport, making them a popular form of art until the 17th century. Since medieval castles were made of stone, tapestries hung on the walls provided insulation, making them both functional and decorative pieces. As a plus, their narrative scenes were visual entertainment for owners and guests.

However, the hunt was among the most popular scenes depicted in tapestries. The theme of hunting was both a social event and a social need for food. But why were they so extravagant?

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