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Flemish tapestry, The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
late 16th century
Material and technique
wool and silk
228 x 292 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The tapestry, probably of Flemish manufacture and dating from the end of the sixteenth century, depicts the biblical story of the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek narrated in Chapter 14 of the Book of Genesis. In a wide space filled with elements of landscape and numerous figures, the Patriarch Abraham is brought bread and wine gifted by the King of Salem, who is also a priest. On the left is Abraham’s camp, while on the right the biblical city appears, surrounded by fortified walls.
Since mediaeval times the story has been interpreted as prefiguring the  Eucharist which Jesus instituted at the Last Supper. This is why the figure of Melchizedek plays a leading role in Christian exegesis and has been represented in many ways in art. His image appears frequently in tapestries manufactured in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as evidenced by the illustrious examples based on cartoons by Van Orley and Rubens.
The wool and silk tapestry is woven predominantly in shades of green and blue and cursorily executed; it is of Flemish production and dates from the late sixteenth century. The absence of a border and lack of signature make it impossible to identify the workshop
The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek
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