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Spirit of France
Spirit of France
Workshop Of:
Not on display
Wool; Tapestry Weave
157.5 x 223.5 cm (62 x 88 in.)
Object Type:
Accession Number:
Acquisition Date:
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Gift of Mrs. Marie Stauffer Sigall in memory of her father, John Stauffer

Exhibition History:

Five Centuries of Tapestry, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor, 1976
National Tour: Five Centuries of Tapestry, Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York, 12/3/77- 1/29/78; Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, 5/13/78 - 7/2/78; Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, 9/13/78 - 10/29/78
Tapestries: 15th - 20th Centuries, Transamerica Pyramid Lobby, San Francisco, 1979
Jean Lurcat: The Moissons Tapestry, Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, 1989-90
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor Cafe, until 1990s renovation

The original name given to this tapestry was Coq-France; the present title evokes a similar meaning. The heroic rooster symbolizes the spirit of the French nation. The image recurs throughout Lurcat’s work in bewildering variety. It is the apotheosis of an ordinary animal seen with the eye of an artist and a poet. Lurcat himself describes the initial impact of the rooster on his artistic consciousness: “The bird was overwhelmingly proud. The sun enveloped him, polished up his breast, made it shine, in fact made him a sort of Red God… his claws come to ground like a wave of a marshal’s baton. What glory! What splendor – an image presents itself – a King!” This splendid creature wears a radiant sun as halo. Beneath his feet is another sphere, double-cored and ringed with light. From it emerge red waving, tapering forms. A third sphere explodes with vegetation at upper right. Three lines, inscribed against the yellow ground, Feux de ciel/ Coq France/ Mariage d’esperance (Fires from the sky/ Rooster of France/ Marriage of Hope). The signature of Lurcat and the mark of Madame Goubely appear in the lower left corner. The symbolism, according to Madame Jean Lurcat, would be easily understood by anyone who had lived through the German Occupation. The rising sun symbolizes the Liberation and the cock symbolizes France – France that does not die but watches and sings and will live again in liberty. 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): p. 312.