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Opnieuw de Nassause tapijten

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image of Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History

The author supplements studies published in the 1969 and 1975 volumes of Oud Holland concerning the Nassau tapestries which Count Henry III of Nassau ordered to be made in 1531 after designs by Barend van Orley. Five of Van Orley's drawings for this series of tapestries with equestrian portraits have been preserved. The inscription in the cartouche on one of these drawings is not consistent with the depicted persons. The author contends that they are Henry III himself and his third wife, the Spanish Mencia de Mendoza, with his first two wives in the background Arguments supporting this hypothesis are based on the resemblance to other portraits of the couple, the insignia of the order of the Golden Fleece on the cuirass and on the count's coat of arms, the countess's garments and the mule on which she alone is scated. The mule should be seen as the mount most commonly ridden by ladies in Spain. Frederick Henry had copies of the original series made in 1632. They hung in the Noordeinde palace first, and later in Breda castle. The name of the maker of these copies was hitherto unknown. However, a pamphlet containing a description of a wedding feast held in February 1638 in the Noordeinde palace states the artist's name: Jan Raes, a Brussels tapestry weaver.

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