Tapestry: Chancellerie
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Gift of J. Paul Getty
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Woven at the Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory; woven after a cartoon by Guy-Louis Vernansal, painter; Pavillon, designer; and Claude Audran III, designer; woven under the direction of Étienne-Claude Le Blond, workshop director
French, Gobelins, about 1728 - 1730
Wool and silk
11 ft. 6 3/4 in. x 8 ft. 11 3/8 in.

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The French king Louis XV presented Germain-Louis Chauvelin, his Keeper of Seals, with this tapestry, originally one of a set of ten. Known as a portière, it would have hung across the door of a formal room to keep out drafts. Its prominent heraldic symbols would have clearly announced to visitors the importance of its owner and royal donor. Displayed under a gilded and tasseled canopy, the royal coat of arms appears against an ermine-lined mantle. The arms rest upon a gilt metal box decorated with fleur-de-lis and L's, the king's initial, representing the casket for the royal seals. The tapestry's wide border contains crossed maces, attributes of the keeper of seals; Chauvelin's monogram of interlaced C's; and his coat of arms in the four corners.

Around 1680, Louis XIV began a tradition of presenting his chancellor or his keeper of seals with a set of tapestries from the Gobelins tapestry manufactory. A powerful figure in the 1600s and 1700s, the keeper of seals acted as minister of justice and was second in command to the chancellor of France. The chancellor represented the person of the king, interpreted the royal will, and headed the judicial system. Chauvelin accepted the tapestry set around 1730, at the height of his career.

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