Tapestry: Saint Gregory Converts the Sacrament into Flesh/A Skeptical Priest Converted (fragment from the series, THE STORY OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT)
first quarter of 16th century
Object Place: France
194 x 182 cm (76 3/8 x 71 5/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Tapestry weave (wool warp; wool and silk wefts)
Not On View
Fragment with two scenes, divided by a column, from the series “The Story of the Holy Sacrament.” On the left is shown St. Gregory flanked by clerics administering communion to skeptical woman kneeling with three lay figures before table, miraculous vision of crucified Christ flanked by Virgin and St. John on alter behind. On the right, a tonsured priest kneels before altar with vision of Virgin and Child in mandorla of light above altar. Dame Loyse le Roux arms at column base; descriptive inscriptioins below scenes. Condition: faded; areas of reweaving throughout. Related to other Boston-MFA tapestries: 04.76, 1974.609, and 1974.610.
Commissioned by Dame Loyse de le Roux (d. 1523) for the Abbey of Ronceray, Angers, France [see note 1]; sold by the church, possibly through the Canon Laumonier, to the Countess Walsh de Serrant, Chateau du Plessis-Macé, near Angers; September 30-October 5, 1888, Plessis-Macé sale, near Angers, lot 8, sold for 5,400 fr. to the Comte d'Estoile, Chateau de la Colletrie; until about 1930, remained at the Chateau de la Colletrie [see note 1]. By 1931, Olive Cecilia Paget (Mrs. Arthur Wilson-Filmer, later Lady Baillie) (b. 1899 - d. 1974), Leeds Castle; December 13, 1974, Lady Baillie sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 221, sold to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 13, 1974)
 This is one of five tapestries in the collection of the MFA (accession nos. 04.76, 65.1033, and 1974.609-1974.610) from a larger series of twenty-one scenes depicting the history and miracles of the Holy Sacrament. These were hung in the choir of the church of the Abbey of Ronceray annually, during the procession of the feast of the Holy Sacrament.
According to Louis de Farcy, the tapestries were abandoned in the attic of the old abbey, were rediscovered after the French Revolution, and sold in 1848 by the occupants, the school of arts of Angers, for about 300 francs to the canon Laumonier. Laumonier gave them to the Countess Walsh de Serrant, who placed them at the Chateau du Plessis-Macé, where they remained until their dispersal in 1888. However, the catalogue of the 1888 Plessis-Macé sale, echoed by X. Barbier de Montault, states that the tapestries were moved at the time of the French Revolution to the church of the Trinity. The church trustees sold the tapestries to the Countess, who placed them first at the Chateau de Serrant, then the Chateau du Plessis-Macé. The 1888 sale catalogue states that the French had state tried to claim the tapestries as national property (since the suppression of the religious orders during the Revolution led to the nationalization of their property), but were unsuccessful as they had already been sold.
For Farcy's account, see "Séance du Conseil d'Administration, Tenue à la Bibliothèque nationale le 18 mai 1897," Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de Paris 24 (1897), p. 125 and Louis de Farcy, Monographie de la Cathédrale d'Angers (1901), p. 151. Also see the Catalogue des Splendides Tapisseries et Objets d'Art garnissant le Chateau du Plessis-Macé (September 30-October 5, 1888), p. 8 and X. Barbier de Montault, "Les Tapisseries du Plessis-Macé," Revue de l'Anjou 18 (1889), pp. 4-5.
 W. G. Thomson, A History of Tapestry from the Earliest Times until the Present Day (London, 1930), p. 224, records the three tapestries purchased by the Comte d'Estoile (MFA accession nos. 1974.608-1974.610) as being still at the Chateau de la Colletrie.
Charles Potter Kling Fund