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The Four Seasons - Spring

The Four Seasons Tapestries, now on display at Hatfield House, were originally woven for Sir John Tracy of Toddington, Gloucestershire. Each tapestry contains the coat of arms of the Toddington family. They made their way to Hatfield House some time before 1846 where they were hung in rooms prepared for Queen Victoria when she visited Hatfield in October of that year.

The four tapestries are adaptations of engravings of the Four Seasons by Maarten de Vos, which show allegorical figures presiding over rural labours and activities of the season. The tapestries depict a mixture of seasonal and allegorical images and homely details.

Each tapestry has three roundels at the top illustrating signs of the zodiac and the frames are filled with over a hundred different emblems. These images link the familiar activities of the tapestry with timeless and idealised personifications, often moral, political or religious in meaning.

Spring, represented by Venus, sits wearing a headdress of flowers with a bunch of spring flowers in her hand. Venus is accompanied by Cupid and two doves perch on her knee. The tapestry is full of blooming flowers and verdant trees, creating a landscape that is moving towards a millefleurs composition. Our in-house designers have digitally removed the figures to create a cohesive landscape.

In the forest, where the trees are filled with roosting birds, there is a stag hunt and a man hides behind a tree with a gun, which is seen to explode. Below this is a hare hunt and in the river that winds through the tapestry a young couple fish together.

Meanwhile on the left the scenes are more bucolic. There is a field of sheep and lambs, a lady milks cows in the foreground, and men and women gather flowers and make crowns for themselves, imitating Venus.

Lions appear in Spring, Summer and Autumn and their meaning is not clear. The symbolism of lions in art is huge and they could represent a number of things including: fortitude, the resurrection or the merely the dangers of straying beyond the pastoral world.

Available in: Wayland
The Four Seasons - Spring