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Master: The Story of Abraham Series
Item: The Separation of Abraham and Lot, Genesis Ch. 13, v. 8-9

Luxury hangings for royal residences


The Triumph of Hercules circa 1540

RCIN 1363

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Designers typically designed tapestries in a series of panels, like a modern strip cartoon. Often these illustrated events in the life of a famous hero, such as Alexander the Great, or a Biblical character, like Queen Esther. A buyer did not have to buy the whole set, but instead might choose one or several panels, sometimes woven to their own specifications to fit a certain space. 

This gold-woven Brussels tapestry is one of two surviving panels of a seven-piece set showing classical gods, including Hercules and Bacchus. The series, known as the 'Antiques', had originally been designed for Pope Leo X in about 1520, but in 1542 copies were made for Henry VIII's use at Whitehall Palace.

The tapestry was possibly hung in the First Presence Chamber at Hampton Court during William III's reign (r.1689–1702).