Tag Archives: Europe

Persian Gallery New York is Giving Pope Francis an Antique Tapestry for FREE!!!

Not much fazes the populace of New York City.  People walk through the bustling streets and barely acknowledge the constant wail of sirens, emergency vehicles, street performers, dogs, and the other cacophony of sounds that make up the soundtrack of daily life in the Big City.  If there’s one thing that trips up even the most hardened New Yorker, though, it’s heavy traffic.  And I don’t mean the usual take-an-hour-to-get-across-town traffic, I mean traffic so bad, you’d think the Pope is in town…

Well today, traffic is HELLACIOUS.  And yes, the Pope is indeed in town!

The whole world is watching Pope Francis‘ historic visit to The Big Apple, culminating in tonight’s visit to “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.   Of course, withthe legions of people thronging into the city to see the Pontiff, security is tight, and many streets and traffic routes are closed off, squeezing traffic to a standstill in many major areas around town.

Now, let’s get down to business.  In the title of this blog entry, we state that Persian Gallery New York is giving Pope Francis the following antique tapestry:



This is a fine Franco-Flemish tapestry from the border town of Lille, and it dates back to the early 17th century, making it a nearly 400 year old antique wall-hanging!  It features a humble priest, possibly a previous Pope, kneeling before a large cross.

We here at PGNY are ready and willing to give this to Pope Francis himself, for FREE, if he can just squeeze in a quick visit to our showroom on his way to Madison Square Garden.  I know, I know, traffic is a disaster, but he’s in his Popemobile, and MSG is straight up the block from us.  Seriously, we’ll give it to him FREE.  Okay, maybe he can snap a couple of quick photos with us, but that’s it, FREE TAPESTRY!

Of course, we know the Pope is busy guy, and I guess it’s conceivable that he might not be able to come into our showroom to pick up the tapestry.  And no, substitutes are not allowed, so he can’t send a Cardinal or a Bishop over to pick it up for him.  Well, if by some small chance Pope Francis doesn’t make it over here to pick up the tapestry himself, you, dear readers, are in luck, because you can now be the new owner Pope Francis’ very own tapestry!!  E-mail us at info@pgny.com, or call us at (212) 683-2699 to set up an appointment to come visit our showroom and see the Pope’s tapestry in person!  You might not get the tapestry for free, but when you call, use the code POPE and we’ll be sure to take care of you!  And I can personally guarantee, traffic will definitely not be as bad as it is today if you want to pay us a visit in the future!

Antique Tapestries with Bathing Women, and the Myth of Callisto

In an article featured in the New York Times‘ Art section this past week, the writer details an art exhibition currently taking place in the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris, entitled “La Toilette: The Birth of Privacy.”  The exhibition focuses on the way women’s bathing and toileting rituals have been historically depicted in classical European works of art, and what that reflects about the progression from bathing having been done public to bathing being done in private.


The exhibition displays numerous works of art, including many antique tapestries, like this one:

Paris Art Exhibit Tapestry

The exhibition shows how, lacking the modern convenience of indoor plumbing and instant access to water, bathing was something done very seldom, and when done, was done only by the wealthy.  When wealthy women bathed, they were in the company of several attendants and/or ladies in waiting, making what we think of now as a most private of grooming acts a rather communal or public event, and one in which the form of the bathing female was exposed to the eyes of all those around her.  No matter how banal a ritual bathing can be, one can surely see the undercurrent of eroticism and voyeurism in such communal baths of the otherwise hard to access female elite.

This same undercurrent of eroticism and voyeurism can be detected in many classic tales from Greco-Roman mythology, and in particular, the myths chronicled in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  In many of Ovid’s tales, a female figure pursued by a god or a satyr is transformed into a different form, often involving her contact with or pursuit through a body of water.

Case in point, let’s take a look at the myth of Callisto.  Callisto was one of the female attendants of the goddess of the hunt, Diana (aka- Artemis).  Diana and her attendants would regularly go on hunts of wild animals, and after their hunts, they would all bathe together communally in a nearby stream.  Callisto was one of Diana’s most loyal attendants, and was renowned for her vows of chastity.  As the story goes, Zeus, the king of all the Greco-Roman gods, and father to Diana, was renowned for his wanderlust, and was constantly chasing different women, both goddesses and mortals.  In this myth, Zeus seduces Callisto, and they have a torrid affair.  Soon thereafter, Diana learns of Callisto’s betrayal of her vow of chastity, committed with Diana’s father, Zeus.  She is furious, and after a hunt one day, Callisto’s shame is exposed during the communal bath.

This exact moment is captured in one of our antique tapestries:


26032 (pro)

In the moment that is depicted in this tapestry, we see Diana and the other attendants and nymphs exposing the shame of Callisto, not only in the sense of revealing the sordid details of her affair, but also in the physical sense of pointing out and shaming Callisto’s nude form in the midst of what was until then a sorority’s communal bath.  We, the viewers, almost become complicit in the shaming, and we see again the undercurrent of eroticism and voyeurism that is chronicled in the aforementioned exhibit in Paris.

The myth goes on, of course, and Callisto is metamorphosed into a bear by Zeus in a vain attempt to hide away his misdeed from his furious wife, Hera.  Diana, being the huntress, ends up killing the she-bear Callisto during a subsequent hunt, and whether intentionally or unintentionally, slays her former confidante, despite Zeus’ attempts to conceal their affair.  Zeus metamorphoses the dead she-bear Callisto again, sending her into the heavens by transforming her into the constellation Ursa Major, ie- The Great Bear.

What we can take away from this is that the depiction of the bathing female, and the underlying prurience that goes along with it, was not limited to artistic renderings of privileged females in mid-millennium Europe, but is deeply rooted in story-telling that dates back to Ancient Greece.  Concomitant with the renderings of the bathing female is the voyeuristic undercurrent we’ve discussed in this blog post, which can be seen from many different angles and points of view, but also must be seen to exist.

The lovely antique Franco-Flemish tapestry displayed above is an exquisite example of this, and is now available for sale online for the very first time.  You can bring this piece of history home today via Persian Gallery New York‘s store at First Dibs!