Tapestry of Heracles fighting the Hydra of Lerna

Textiles and clothing


Late 16th century

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High-warp tapestry technique. Taffeta made of multiple and discontinuous wefts. Linen warp and multiple polychrome woollen wefts. The decorative pattern was painted on a cartoon, whose outlines were passed to the warp. The weavers wove the tapestry from the back, with the cartoon by their side; by using a mirror they could see the front of the pattern. In the centre of the composition there is a circular medallion with the circumference made of flowers and, inside, Heracles clubbing the seven-headed hydra of Lerna to death. One of the heads is on the ground. He is helped by Iolaus, who lights his way with a torch. Beneath this scene there is another smaller rectangular one that shows Heracles clubbing to death the fifty thieves led by Lernus. In the centre at the top there is the owl, the symbol of Athena, and at the sides, faun's and lion's heads inside medallions. The border is decorated with musical instruments and fruit at the top and bottom. At the sides there is a kind of tree-candelabrum from where two branches sprout, with a female and a male figure, whose bodies are unclothed; the female is hitting a tambourine and the male is playing a flute. It was almost certainly woven in Flanders – there are unidentified marks at the bottom of the lower border – from a Mannerist cartoon, perhaps Italian.

Llegir més


Room16 ,Floor1

9-10-11 Gothic Art

12-13-14 Renaissance

15-16 Textiles and Clothing

17 Glass

Detalls de l’obra


Flanders (?)


Late 16th century


Woollen warp and polychrome woollen wefts. High-warp tapestry technique


350 x 526 cm


Provenance unknown


MEV 56