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National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania received a unique tapestry set of private collections all over the world

With a special escort and protection to the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania delivered unique values – till now never exposed and little-known set of 34 tapestries. Historic textiles brought to Lithuania belong to private collections in Italy, the United Kingdom, and other European countries, and the United States of America. More than 7 million EUR priced 15th-16th centuries tapestries will be shown in the reconstructed historic state rooms in the international exhibition ‘Medieval and Renaissance Tapestry in Europe. History Woven in Threads’.      

‘Old tapestries – it’s textile phenomenon of the late Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque, beautiful woven pictures, important for the residencies of European lords, nobles and officials of the churches. It was proof of status, rank or position, which insisted a huge investment, also – the mandatory representation attribute and very valuable and delicate piece of art, created by famous painters and weavers, telling complicated stories, hiding many symbolic meanings. In 16th and 17th centuries tapestries were popular in Lithuania and Poland. Lithuanian duke and Polish king Sigismund Augustus had the biggest and most expensive tapestries collections in Europe. The collection comprised approximately 360 pieces. The cost of one set of tapestries acquired by Sigismund Augustus is a testimony to the special artistic and material value of the collection of the rulers of Lithuania and Poland. It was equal to the annual budget for the mid-16th century Livonian War. Later the tapestries collection of the Lithuanian dukes and Polish kings was topped and reached 600 pieces – at that time it was most numerous and valuable set in the world. So the international exhibition ‘Medieval and Renaissance Tapestry in Europe. History Woven in Threads’ is an excellent opportunity to reflect on and actualise the history and the heritage of the early Lithuanian state, and its longstanding ties with other European countries and important centres of culture and art in Europe’, Mr /Dr Dolinskas, director of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, said.

Most of the early tapestries presented in Lithuania come from the FRANSES Tapestry Archive (London, United Kingdom) and the collection of Nathan Levi (Florence, Italy). Simon Franses and Nathan Levi, both famous collectors, researchers and antique specialists, have selected the tapestries for this exhibition in Vilnius.

The exhibition will show tapestries that were woven in important textile centres in the Southern Netherlands (Belgium), France and Italy in the late 15th and 16th centuries. They adorned churches and the residences of many European monarchs, nobles and Church leaders in the 16th to the 18th centuries. Textile art like this also adorned the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in the Lower Castle in Vilnius from the early 16th century, and it was later collected by Lithuanian nobles and by Vilnius Cathedral. Such early tapestries (from the 16th century) can only be found in Lithuania in the collection of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (11 pieces), while other museums have textiles only from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

As very valuable, for physical impact, microclimate conditions and the light-sensitive exhibits, the old textile pieces rarely leave their permanent storage or exposure sites. This set of tapestries, formed specially for Vilnius exhibition, for the first time in the world will be shown for National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania visitors. It is a truly extraordinary event, a global premiere of the set of the oldest tapestries in Europe. Later this exhibition will travel to the other world‘s museums.

The international exhibition ‘Medieval and Renaissance Tapestry in Europe. History Woven in Threads’ in the National Museum Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania will be opened on the 17th of September 2014 and will continue three month, till 14th of December. All museum visitors who will purchase ticket to the museum can visit museum permanent expositions and this international exhibition as well.       

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Published:: 2014-09-16 09:20 Modified: 2014-10-30 09:30
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