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French tapestry, The Battle of Arbela
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
1680 - 1690
Material and technique
wool and silk
275 x 320 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
This is one of a six-piece set of tapestries narrating the story of Alexander the Great, probably woven between 1680 and 1690 in the town of Felletin, in France. It depicts the famous battle that took place in 331 BC between the Macedonian king and Darius III, usually known as the Battle of Arbela but which actually took place on the Plain of Gaugamela. As a result of this victory Alexander was able to annex Persia and the lands in the East to his immense empire.
The panel, based on the set of eleven tapestries designed by Charles Le Brun, contains a smaller-scale version of the original composition: leaving out the eagle hovering above Alexander’s head, the scene centres on a detail of the battle in which the Greek soldiers throw the Persians to the ground and kill them. In the background is the slender figure of Alexander on horseback. The huge composition, commissioned by Louis XIV, was inspired by a painting by Pietro da Cortona (now in the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome) that Le Brun must have seen, perhaps before it was finished, during his stay in Italy from 1642 to 1646. The border is richly decorated with a complex pattern of arms, flags, trumpets and war drums that appears throughout the series, as well as in another version of the tapestry preserved in the Musée d’Unterlinden in Colmar.
The Battle of Arbela
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