“It’s extraordinary to be able to see these pieces!”

“It’s extraordinary to be able to see these pieces!”
“It’s extraordinary to be able to see these pieces!”

The success of the Apocalypse tapestry cannot be denied. It is estimated that 300,000 visitors come each year to discover or rediscover this tapestry displayed in its setting at the Château d’Angers. For the first anniversary of its inclusion in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” register, some recently discovered fragments were added for this long weekend.

There were several reasons for this event. First of all, this long Pentecost weekend was also that of European Museum Night. Then, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the public exhibition of the Apocalypse tapestry at the Château d’Angers. Finally, a year ago, the largest medieval tapestry in the world was included in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” register.

The Apocalypse Tapestry is a work 100 meters long and 4.5 meters high (originally 140 meters long by 6 meters high). Made in seven years (in Paris, it is believed) following an order from duke Louis Ier of Anjou, in 1375, she evokes the Apocalypse according to Saint John. Forgotten by everyone in the 18th century, it was cut into pieces and used, for certain ends, as… a blanket for horses! It is to Canon Joubert that we owe its rescue after it was rediscovered in the middle of the 18th century… but pieces of it are missing.

Read also: The Apocalypse tapestry exhibited in Angers, included by UNESCO in the “Memory of the World” register

Four fragments kept in the castle’s reserves were already presented in 2017 during a retrospective of the Apocalypse. This Pentecost weekend, very small fragments, found in 2020 in the reserves of a Parisian art gallery, were exhibited for the first time.

To the delight of a public who came to complete their knowledge of this monument.

“We have known about the tapestry of the Apocalypse for years, a visitor testified this Sunday. I think it’s extraordinary to be able to see these pieces and I don’t know if we will have the opportunity to see them again. These are pieces that are very well preserved for the most part. We have the original colors, which unfortunately we no longer have on the Apocalypse, except when we look at the rear. The back of the tapestry is still very well preserved.”

Saying “moved by the genius of those who preceded us”, the husband of this visitor says he regrets that almost a quarter of the tapestry was lost.

“This tapestry as a whole is an extraordinary monument which arouses for me both admiration and many reflections, he adds. And anything that allows you to go further is valuable. It was, originally, a monument, doubtless of pride to a certain extent, of erudition. It is also an absolute masterpiece of the skill of the hands of the artisans of the time. It’s an absolutely complete work, I’m full of eyes!”

See the report by Laurence Couvrand, Olivier Cailler and Carole Mijeon.

duration of video: 00h02mn02s

Exhibition of fragments of the Apocalypse tapestry at the Château d’Angers

©France Télévisions Laurence Couvrand, Olivier Cailler and Carole Mijeon.

Another visitor appreciates seeing the fragments more closely than the hangings themselves.

“You can really see the granularity of the tapestry. It’s really interesting!” he said.

“We didn’t think we would one day find fragments of the Apocalypse, rejoices Anna Leicher, curator of antiques and objects of art at the Department of Maine-et-Loire. This is an absolutely exceptional discovery. Especially since there are small fragments of metal threads inside while there are none at all in the rest of the tapestry.”

Fragments of tapestry certainly (of the fourth character of the hangings), but which have the quality of not having been degraded by the light of the 20th century. This light which damaged the hangings exhibited in the Château d’Angers.

“It allows us to make study fragments, explains Anna Leicher. They will remain in the dark and, for study, presented to researchers, professors, students, scientists who can come and examine them.

► Watch the documentary: “The Crazy History of the Apocalypse” written by Frédéric Stenz and directed by Nicolas Fauvel.

Exhibited during these three days as they were recovered, these fragments must be restored in order, perhaps, to be presented to the public again.

Olivier Quentin with Laurence Couvrand.

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