Tapestry: The Harvesting of Pineapples from The Story of the Emperor of China Series
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Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory; after designs by Guy-Louis Vernansal
French, Beauvais, about 1690 - 1705
Wool and silk; modern cotton lining
W: 8 ft. 5 1/2 in. x L: 13 ft. 7 1/2 in.

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In one tapestry from a set known as The Story of the Emperor of China series, a woman standing at the left, possibly the Chinese empress, gestures with her fan toward the tropical bounty and beyond to the six-storied pagoda and other buildings in the distance. The tapestry's foreground shows a field of pineapples and other plants, including a palm and a tall banana tree.

The first pineapple grown in France had been given to the King of France, Louis XIV, but the fruit was still rare in the early 1700s and its form was probably unknown to the Beauvais artists who wove the tapestry. They learned about foreign plants such as tea, coconuts, ginger, and pineapples, as well as images of their harvesting, from botanical engravings. Beginning in the 1660s, such engravings were available in France through the published accounts of Jesuit missionaries and the Dutch East India Company.

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