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Devonshire Bears

Printed Linen Panels

The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries are believed to have been made between 1430-1450, in Arras, France. They are typical of tapestries of the Middle Ages, though very few tapestries of this scale and quality of design have survived. The V&A acquired these tapestries from the estate of the Duke of Devonshire.

It is thought that these tapestries belonged to the celebrated Countess of Shrewsbury, known as “Bess of Hardwick” and were probably from Hardwick Hall, one of her houses in Derbyshire.

The hunt was a particularly powerful theme and would have been a familiar pastime as well as an important source of food to the families who owned such tapestries. Henry VIII was known to have owned over 200 tapestries illustrating hawking and hunting scenes.

The Devonshire Bears features a number of elegant couples. In the centre of the tapestry a lady wears a sumptuous blue gown decorated with back-to-front letters that spell the motto 'much desire'. The man's sleeve is decorated with silver shapes that resemble teardrops and probably also relate to the pursuit of love.

The rich red gown of the lady further right is lined with miniver, an expensive fur obtained from the bellies of Baltic squirrels.

Available in: Classic, Hatfield Blue

Image: Devonshire Bears Printed Linen Panels, Classic
Devonshire Bears