This tapestry fragment depicts deer, sheep, and a hare within an all-over field of randomly placed plants, many of them flowering. Because of the flowers, this tapestry design is often referred to as millefleurs (thousand flowers), a popular design in France and Flanders in the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. At the bottom in the center is a profusion of large-scale leaves.
The Dumbarton Oaks tapestry fragment is closely related to a fragmentary millefleurs tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum (T.37-1914). Indeed, the same cartoons (preparatory drawings used by the weavers) for several of the deer, sheep, plants, and the hare were employed for both tapestries. Although it is possible that the two tapestries are both fragments from the same original weaving, it is more likely that they came from the same series of tapestries. The Victoria and Albert tapestry has a more complete central element of a canopy of leaves above tree trunks, all rising from a grassy knoll inhabited
by more animals. The cartoons for these tapestries may be based on Gaston Phoebus’s Livre de chasse.
The Blisses acquired this tapestry on the advice of their close friend, Royall Tyler. The Blisses were considering the acquisition of two other tapestries and had asked Tyler to see them and offer his opinion. Tyler disparaged both of the choices, saying that they attempted to be too much like paintings. However, he highly praised the Animals and Flowers fragment that he had discovered, taking special delight in its two-dimensional and abstracted design, which he found more suitable to the tapestry medium.
Thompson, Arthur P. "Inventory and Appraisal of the Personal Property Owned by the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss." privately printed, Washington, DC: 7/29/1938, 24f, no. 81.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Bulletin (July, 1923), 183.
Asselberghs, Jean-Paul. Les tapisseries flamandes aux Etats-Unis d'Amerique. Brussels: 1974, 45.
Bühl, Gudrun, editor. Dumbarton Oaks, The Collections. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (distributed by Harvard University Press), 2008, 302f, ill.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, 5/31/1923-7/17/1925.
William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City, KS, 3/13/1942-10/18/1944.
"The Collector's Microbe: Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss and the Dumbarton Oaks Collections," Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, Apr. 9 - Nov. 9, 2008.
Purchased from Bacri Frères, Paris (dealer), by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 3/19/1913.
Collection of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, Washington, DC, 3/19/1913-11/29/1940.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, House Collection, Washington, DC.