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Apocalypse tapestry Château d'Angers - A medieval vision of the end of time

Apocalypse tapestry Château d'Angers - A medieval vision of the end of time

28 May 2013 BY Tim Wells

An unprepossessing concrete bunker on the site of the old kitchens of the Château d’Angers houses one of France’s most important and dramatic artistic treasures. The Apocalypse Tapestry is the largest and oldest surviving work of this medieval decorative art, and brings the fevered vision from the Book of Revelations startlingly to life, with its panoply of angels, monsters, and dragons. Commissioned by Louis I, it was based on the Flemish tradition, and executed in Paris in the late 14th century. The Tapestry was displayed in Angers Cathedral on important religious occasions, and permanently housed there from 1480. During the French Revolution it was cut up into pieces, but fortunately, enough of the Tapestry survived, and in the 1840s it was restored to its present form. Conceived in six sections or chapters, it originally contained a total of 90 scenes of which 71 survive, on alternating red and blue backgrounds, in beautiful hues now preserved by the discreet lighting. Woven during the 100 Years’ War, it also provides a fascinating narrative of contemporary events; get a good guide book, it will have photos of the well-preserved reverse side of the Tapestry with its original vivid colours still radiant.

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