This is an early French Tapestry Cartoon, which would have been used as a guide in weaving tapestries... Historically, tapestry weavers worked while facing what would be the back of the finished piece. They copied with their colored weft threads the tapestry's design. The design, referred to as the "cartoon," took the form of a painting—made on cloth or paper, the same size as the planned tapestry. This cartoon was either temporarily attached to the loom, flush against the backs of the warp threads, and visible in the gaps between the warps; or it was hung on the wall behind the weavers, who followed it by looking at its reflection in a mirror behind the warps. Because weavers copied the cartoon facing on the back of the tapestry, when the piece was finished, removed from the loom, and turned around to reveal the front, the woven image on the front of the tapestry was the mirror image of the cartoon shown. Weavers could avoid this reversal of the design by using the mirror method to copy the cartoon's design. The cartoon was not physically part of the completed tapestry, and could be reused multiple times in order to make duplicate tapestries.
This cartoon measures 145" H x 95" W, and features wonderful floral patterns all surrounding a beautiful woman dressed in a delicate Grecian style dress with her arm raised. Her other arm appears to be holding some parchment as she sits atop a pillar with a brilliant gold backdrop. The colors in this piece are magnificent. There is wear to the piece and fading as well as losses at the edges, and a binding in the middle that runs diagonally along the piece. This is two pieces joined along the center and the binding may have been a repair or stabilization done at a later date.