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French tapestry, The Triumph of Alexander the Great
Biblical - Historical - Mythologic
1680 - 1690
Material and technique
wool and silk
270 x 155 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
A mighty Macedonian horseman, his sword held proudly in his right hand, sits straight on his fiery steed. In the background, the tents of a military camp can be seen, while on high a winged figure bearing trumpet and crown rests on the clouds. This is clearly an allegory of Fame, depicted in the act of crowing the heroic protagonist. The resemblance to the figure of Alexander the Great, who appears in the other tapestries in the series, suggests that this horseman, previously thought to be ordinary warrior, should in fact be interpreted as another representation of the Macedonian king.  Indeed, he wears the same plumed helmet and has the same long blond hair, while his horse is presumably the mythical Bucephalus described by biographers. This theory is borne out by the presence of a flag and the crowns of the vanquished lying in the foreground.
The horseman’s triumphant pose calls to mind that of the similar figure at the centre of The Triumphal Entry of Alexander into Babylon designed by Charles Le Brun for Louis XIV in 1665. As with the other tapestries in the series, because of the small size of the panel the weaver was forced to simplify the elegant figure portrayed by Le Brun, adapting it to the constraints of this late-seventeenth-century textile.
The Triumph of Alexander the Great
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