Tapestry: The Return from the Hunt 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
13 ft. 10 in. x 9 ft. 6 in.

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In a tapestry from the set known as The Story of the Emperor of China series, a terraced outdoor pavilion is the setting for the return from the hunt. The emperor, still wearing his quiver and holding his bow, leads the empress down the carpeted steps to show her the catch of game: a deer, waterfowl, and other birds. Behind them stands a large, elaborate throne with sphinxes at each armrest and carved, winged dragons on top. Peacock feathers fan from the crest, and jewels line its upper edge.

The double arcade that arches over the throne is a whimsical structure created by the Beauvais artists rather than an authentic Chinese form. This fantastic architecture with its spindly Gothic ornament may have inspired designers of the late 1700s and early 1800s who copied the mixture of Gothic and Far Eastern motifs. This series may be one of the earliest examples of the emerging chinoiserie style, in which Westerners employed exotic Chinese forms combined with European motifs.

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