Tapestry: Two Miracles of the Eucharist (from the series THE STORY OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT)
First third of the 16th century
Object Place: France
175 x 221 cm (68 7/8 x 87 in.) (detail shown)
Medium or Technique
Tapestry weave (wool warp, wool and silk wefts)
Not On View
This tapestry shows two episodes illustrating the miraculous power of the Holy Eucharist. The episode on the left, the Deliverance of a Demoniac shows a priest administering the sacrament to a man, from whose mouth the devil comes forth in the form of a reptile. Below this is the following verse “Par la vertu du sacrament Fut demonstre ung grant miracle Car le dyable visiblement Sortit hors dung demoniacle” The second scene represents a horse with a rider on his back, kneeling before the Host as it is carried in a procession through the streets. Under this is the following verse “Ung payen sans honneur passa Par devant le sainct sacrement Mais son cheval se humilia Puys crut le payen fermement.” The colors are delicate brownish grays, blues, pinks, brown, yellow, and white. A coat-of-arms, believed to the those of Le Roux de la Roches-des-Aubiers impaling Montagu, appears on a lozenge at the bottom of the composition. The same coat-of-arms appears on a tapestry in the Louvre as well as on the Last Supper also in the MFA-Boston collection.
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 10, sold for 3,550 fr. to M. Bailly, Paris. 1897, A. Tollin, Paris; May 20-21, 1897, Tollin sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. 1904, Dikran Kelekian, New York; sold by Kelekian to the MFA. (Accession Date: February 11, 1904)
 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.
Julia Bradford Huntington James Fund