Amour and Morality in Tapestry: Allegory and Humanist Thought in 16th Century France

  • Françoise Keating


The tapestry Amour foulant des rois (c. 1500-20), now in the Detroit Institute of Arts, is a partial survivor of the original hanging. Over the centuries, it has generated very little interest from art historians and has been separated from the other three tapestries that most probably composed the former cycle. Generally, iconographical analyses have limited the understanding of the image to a representation of the powerful god of Love. The DIA curators have mentioned a reference to Petrarch’s Triumphs. Although the partial poem captured in a banderole above the scene has been described as representative of contemporary poetry, it is interesting to notice that it has not been explained in the context of the image. When considered within the framework of an early French Renaissance literary movement centred on Paris and the Bourbonnais, this study offers a new understanding of the tapestry Amour foulant des rois that takes into account the creation process of late medieval visual and textual allegories as it relates to the development of French Humanist thought.