A four hundred year old Flemish Giant Leaf tapestry. It is hand woven in wool with a lush design of large scale ‘feuilles de choux’, small birds, butterflies, snails, lilies-of-the-valley, carnations and other flowers, and a yellow border of dense foliage. It sold at Christies for $197,000. Learn what inspired these mysterious Aubusson tapestries? Why are they so hot today?
Previously in the collection of French antique dealer Armand de Royan.
These rare and mysterious large leaf Verdure tapestries made in the early 1500’s in southern Netherlands and France are known as FEUILLE DE CHOUX (which means “cabbage leaf” in French and is pronounced “Fur deh Shoe”). In fact they have nothing to do with cabbages and everything to do with the the mysterious plants and exotic birds of the New World that explorers such as Columbus (1492) and Vasco da Gama (1498) returned to Europe with. This exotica captured the imagination of the artists and tapestry weavers of early Renaissance Europe as well as their royal patrons such as Henry VIII, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Cesare Borgia.
Imagine walking through a Renaissance palace at night with just candlelight illuminating the walls covered with images of giant twisting leaves, exotic fruits and vegetables and fantastic birds and animals. You would have the feeling of being in the midst of a primeval forest.
To Renaissance Europeans, these tapestries conveyed the vast unexplored wealth, promise and mystery of the New World. They were made at a time when there was an explosion of interest in botany and the study of the medicinal properties of new plants.
Early 20th century magnates John D. Rockefeller, Collis Huntington and Charles Crocker passionately sought out Feuille de Choux tapestries for their drama and history.
Today collectors and designers are fascinated by the delight in pure form and shape found in these tapestries and use them to add depth and historic dimension to modern interiors.
There are Giant Leaf tapestries in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.
Detail of Asmara’s Julien Aubusson Rug inspired by a 16th century Giant Leaf Feuille de Choux tapestry.
Asmara’s Verdure Aubusson Rug is inspired by a mid-16th century Giant Leaf Feuille de Choux tapestry.