For the first time in 1000 years it looks like the famed Bayeux Tapestry will be allowed to travel for exhibition to England, the country whose early history it so evocatively recounts.
“In a sensational stroke of cultural diplomacy,” writes the Washington Post, French President Emmanuel Macron, made the announcement at a bilateral meeting in which the French were pressuring Britain to help pay for the cross channel border patrol. The loan of this fragile masterpiece is not scheduled to take place until 2022 so that conservators can stabilize the 20” x 70 yard wool-embroidered linen panel.
The priceless tapestry depicts, in a continuous narrative, the crushing defeat of England by William the Conqueror. The Battle of Hastings is the centerpiece of the embroidered history, beginning with the story of Harold, Earl of Wessex, who briefly took the throne after the death of Edward the Confessor, only to be defeated just months into his reign by William, Duke of Normandy.
The tapestry’s archaic, yet richly colored drawings in wool inspired the designs of the late nineteenth century French ceramicist Louis-Etienne Desmant (1844-1902). Desmant’s Bayeux series of pottery, an example of which was acquired by Gari and Corinne Melchers, was fabricated out of earthenware and glazed in a distinctive red and iridescent lustre spatter in the Hispano-Moorish tradition.
The Belmont piece is a superlative example by the Desmant pottery. It is an unusually large vase with a pair of rustic handles, the whole in pristine condition. The vase, signed Desmant, dates to around 1900-10 and is either the work of Desmant or his son Lucien, as the work of both artists is difficult to differentiate. The images featured on either side of the vase were drawn directly from the original tapestry, an enthroned image of Widdo (Latin for Guy) who apprehended Harold on behalf of William of Normandy and two of William’s soldiers on horseback.