Search the Collections
Gift of Henry K.S. Williams
Crystal Springs School for Girls, Hillsborough, California, 1973
Simon Vouet, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1990-91
Inside the heavy border the central scene opens into deep space. Stately columns and a statue of Hercules denote a palace where a makeshift cradle is secretly prepared. An elderly woman brings drapery and jewels, a kneeling man holds a pen and paper. A third figure, his back to the viewer, watches intently. Although the primary role of the grisaille border is splendid decoration, its figures may have been intended to engage the intellect as well as the eye. It is tempting to see in the playful games of the putti a reflection of an elaborate system of pictorial imagery widely accepted in the seventeenth century. Winged female figures holding fanfare trumpets in the upper corners of all six panels symbolize Fame. The putti with palm fronds and branches of oak and laurel are an allusion to Honor. In the right lower border, a putto puts his hand into a lion’s mouth. Putti at left play with small birds in a nest over which a large bird hovers anxiously. From Anna Gray Bennett, "Five Centuries of Tapestry: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco" (San Francisco: Chronicle Books; The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1976; repr. 1992): 226.