In the year 1540, in the city of Brussels, a team of men worked indefatigably at their workshop looms. Using wool, silk and the most exquisite--and astoundingly costly--threads of gold and silver gilt, they wove the story of Hercules, a demi-god of ancient Greece, for the pleasure of a man who had made himself the head of the church of England and may well have considered himself close to a god: King Henry VIII.
The drawing they placed on the looms to guide the weave was created in the school of Raphael. Born Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, he is the third artist in the triumvirate of Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo--the High Renaissance geniuses. Befriended by Pope Leo X (who excommunicated Martin Luther), Raphael produced transformative paintings such as The Madonna of the Meadow. In 1516 Raphael created 10 drawings of St. Peter and St. Paul that were to become tapestries to hang in the Sistine Chapel. He died in 1520 of a fever supposedly following a night of vigorous sex with his mistress.
Read the full post on tapestries here