Shepherds Purse: tapestry - The Noble Pastoral: Working in wool and sheep-shearing

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The tapestry is currently located at the Louvre in Paris. Weigert describes it as follows:

"The 'Noble Pastoral'. The peasants and nobles, who appear separately in the foregoing pieces, are intermingled in three othere hangings, which are among the most perfect of mille-fleurs tapestries. After a long sojourn at the château of Serrant, in Maine, these entered the Louvre with the Larcade gift in 1949-50. M. Pierre Verlet has christened them the Noble Pastoral. Clad in costumes of an elegant simplicity, the lords and ladies mingle with the countryfolk to share in the Dance, Fruit-gathering, Hopscotch, Sheep shearing and Working in Wool.

"The coats-of-arms which appear in the tapestries have been identified as those of Thomas Bohier (died 1523), chamberlain of the King of France, and his wife Catherine Briçonnet (died 1526), the builders of Chenonceau. It does not, of course, follow that the Noble Pastoral was made for Chenonceau, but the identification of the original owners does at least suggest the possibility that the tapestries may have been woven in that area."

There are hree figures, two women and one man, all dressed in simple but "good" clothing, who are involved in shepherding and textile pursuits.

A woman weaving on a box-loom wears a pouch-belt slung to the left, with a line along the upper mid-line perhaps indicating a flap? On the upper part are fastened (at least) three rings, from which are hung objects hard to identify in this picture, but one is a small round box.

The other woman is shearing a sheep and wears a similar pouch-belt slung to the right. Rings are slightly visible above her arm on the upper part, and part of a double-sided comb is visible hanging below her arm.

The man stands holding a shepherd's crook and wears a large pouch-belt slung somewhat tho the right. It, too, has three rings fastened towards the upper part with hanging objects, including a small knife in a sheath.


Medieval Women calendar series (September 1999)

Weigert, Roger-Armand. 1962. French Tapestry. Charles T. Branford Company, Newton MA. Plate xxiv.