Tapestry: The Last Supper (fragment from the series THE STORY OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT)
First third of 16th century
Object Place: France
177.8 x 177.8 cm (70 x 70 in.) (detail shown)
Medium or Technique
Tapestry weave (wool warp; wool and some silk wefts)
Not On View
Part of a series that takes its subject the concept of the prefiguration of the Holy Eucharist in the Old Testament and its establishment in the New Testament. In left foreground Christ kneels before an apostle and washes his feet in a basin. Two other apostles stand behind. In center back, Christ is seated at the center of the far side of a table with the twelve apostles surrounding him. A scroll at the bottom of the tapestry is inscribed: DEVANT SA MORT SACRA SON SANG ET CORPS ET PRESTRES FIST SES APOSTRES A LHEURE DE FAIRE AINSI LEUR DIST ET SOIENT RECORS QUE SOUBZ CE PAIN SON CORPS ENTIER DEMEURE (“Before His death He consecrated His blood and body, And then He made priests of His apostles. He told them to do likewise and that they should remember That His whole body dwells under [the sign of] this bread’) Condition fair. Faded; patched and repaired by darning.
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 3, sold for 4,600 fr. to M. Lévy, Paris [see note 2]. Henri Bendel (b. 1868 - d. 1936), New York; probably from Bendel to Walter Chrysler (b. 1909 - d. 1988), New York. 1945, French and Company, New York [see note 3]. Anonymous collection, England. 1965, V. and C. Sternberg (dealer), London; 1965, sold by Sternberg to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 22, 1965)
 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.
 This was part of a double panel, which also represented the Crucifixion.
 Lent by French and Company to the exhibition "Four Hundred Years of Tapestries," Detroit Institute of Arts, February 10-March 18, 1945.
Charles Potter Kling Fund