Bayeaux Tapestry Detail B by Anonymous


Bayeaux Tapestry Detail B



Ref GM306
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 20" x 14" (50 x 35 cm)
Price Add to basket
This section of the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the ships of William the Conqueror crossing the English Channel as he set out to invade England in 1066. A fragment may be seen of the Latin narrative for the scene, which reads: “Hic Willelm Dux in magno navigio mare transivit et venit ad Pevenesae.” This may be translated as follows: “Here, Duke William crossed the sea in a great ship, and came to Pevensey.” The boats pictured in the upper half of the scene are smaller than those in the lower half: this is a fascinating use of perspective, which was uncommon in European art until centuries later. The Bayeux Tapestry is an internationally renowned portrayal of one of the most important events in British history, a breathtakingly intricate work of art 230 feet in length. It should be noted that it is not technically a tapestry, but an embroidery: it was stitched, not woven. French tradition holds that the piece was designed and commissioned by William’s queen, Matilda, and created by the ladies of her court. Contemporary scholars, however, believe that it was made at the behest of Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, who was created Earl of Kent shortly after the Norman Conquest and became one of the key figures in the new administration. If this is the case, it would have been stitched by local Anglo-Saxon seamstresses, possibly nuns: in a ruthless act of humiliation, it seems the English were forced to create the record of their own defeat. The history of the Tapestry after its completion was initially uneventful. Transferred to Bayeux at some point in the late eleventh century, it was to remain in the town’s Church of Notre Dame for around seven hundred years, displayed only once annually. Yet in 1792, with France in revolutionary turmoil, the tapestry was saved from destruction only by a quick-thinking lawyer, who rescued it from townspeople seeking cloth to cover their wagons. In 1803 Napoleon transferred the Tapestry to Paris in order to provide inspiration for his planned invasion of England; the twentieth century proved no less lively, as desperate measures were taken to preserve the work from the wars that ravaged Europe. These efforts proved successful: as can be seen from this stunning print, the Bayeux Tapestry survives in excellent condition, and is on permanent display in a museum in central Bayeux.