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Medieval Life and Leisure in the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries (VA) Paperback – 18 Oct 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: V&A Publishing (5 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851773762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851773763
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 1.4 x 30.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Linda Woolley is a curator in the V&A's Department of Furniture, Texiles and Dress. She has researched and lectured extensively in the field of fashionable dress. She is co-author of Shoes, published by V&A Publications in 1999.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Random Tandem on 10 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Linda Woolley has done some excellent research here and put it across in a manner easy to follow and absorb.

The Victoria and Albert Museum only became aware of the existence of the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries in relatively modern times, prior to which they had been in private ownership for several centuries. Sadly, many great tapestries that once adorned our great castles and stately homes have been lost to the ravages of time. The significance of this set is perhaps far greater now than it might have been when they first came into being - particularly due to having opportunity for close examination of materials and techniques involved in their creation. Linda's book goes substantially beyond that examination, looking at the designs and into the lifestyles of the people portrayed, which she does in an informative and believable way. The book has lots of excellent close-up photographic detail to help convey the analysis. Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bess of Hardwick, Chatsworth, Dukes of Devonshire, V&A 4 Aug. 2013
By Jane in Milwaukee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am on a real kick to study Bess of Hardwick, the likeliest person to have purchased the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries in the 1590's, because she was a great embroiderer, a huge patron of the arts to make her legacy Hardwick Hall particularly outstanding...and she knew Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots intimately.

Bess was born 5 years before and died 5 years after Queen Elizabeth for whom she was a Lady of the Bedchamber--the highest honor for a woman. Bess came from humble, though noble, beginnings but perfected the practice of "marrying up" to become the 2nd richest woman in England, Elizabeth, of course, being the richest. The key to Bess's success was her second husband, William Cavendish throwing all custom to the wind and teaching her how to be wealthy: keep daily track of every pound received and of every penny spent. She developed a keen intelligence for the good bargain: which lands to purchase and rent out, great treasures to acquire or have made. She kept outliving her husbands and lucked out with the final one: George Talbot the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury. George was one of Elizabeth's closest advisors and when she had the annoyance of dealing with Mary Stuart, she appointed stalwart George to take care of her. (When Mary had escaped her nobles, she fled to England. Being Elizabeth's cousin [once removed], Mary was 2nd in line to Elizabeth's throne and many an Englishman would have preferred a Catholic monarch to the bastard child of a conniving Anne Boleyn and desperate Henry VIII.) George was forced to invite Mary and her entire "court" of 60 people into his various great houses; he was her jailor but the pretence was that she was his guest. Elizabeth did not hold up her end of the bargain: she had agreed to reimburse George for all Mary's expenses but she never did...and the extravagant Scottish court almost ruined him. Over the 15 years he kept Mary, he more and more drastically cut off her expenses till she got down to the "4 Maries," her ladies since she was a child. In the meantime, Bess and Mary did a lot of embroidery and Mary had fabric, fibers and patterns imported from France. Part of Mary's downfall was secret messages she had smuggled out to supporters in kegs of ale; but she also embroidered fatal messages to supporters and lovers, most notably the Duke of Norfolk who was executed before she was for his treasonous plot to rescue and marry Mary and put her on the throne after dispatching Elizabeth.

I give all this background because these tapestries are exceedingly rare and attest to Bess of Hardwick's amazing foresight to commission and lovingly preserve great pieces of remarkable textiles. Perhaps most importantly, Bess and William Cavendish are the progenitors of the Dukes of Devonshire whose enormous homes and lands are at Chatsworth, one the biggest touring sites in England. I have also recently read about the Unicorn Tapestries in the Metropolitan Museum which are from the same time period and have the same type of medieval figures and hunts portrayed. For more information on these, please see:

The Unicorn Tapestries in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder
Bess of Hardwick: Portrait of an Elizabethan Dynast
Elizabethan Treasures: The Hardwick Hall Textiles
Elizabethan Inheritance
Round About Chatsworth
Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
The needlework of Mary Queen of Scots
Emblems for a Queen: The Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots
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