Penelope Weaving

Penelope Weaving

Date ca. 1480

Movement Northern Renaissance

Medium Tapestry

Dimensions 39.5 x 59”

Housed at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


This particular piece is a fragment from The Story of Penelope and the Story of the Cimbri Women. Along with oil panels, statuettes of precious materials and illuminated manuscripts, aristocrats also sought fine tapestries, especially those of Classical figures in contemporaneous settings. This work was commissioned by the bishop of Tournai in a series called “Famous Women”. Space in this work is treated much like a painting of the time—note the vaulted ceiling disappearing behind the arch overhead. Penelope stands before a tapestry of millefleurs—a two-dimensional floral pattern that was a common pattern in tapestries during this time.