This tapestry is one of a series of a perfectly magnificent set of cartoon created by Pietro Parolo Rubens, and executed at Brussels under his supervision. The piece was commissioned from Rubens by Sir Dudley Carlton, the Ambassador of his Majesty of Great Britain, to the Hague.
Rubens wrote to Sir Dudley Carlton on June 1st 1618, Antwerp; “In a word, in exchange for a chamber furnished in marbles, Your Excellency receives pictures sufficient to adorn an entire palace, quite apart from the tapestries.”

The cartoons depict various historical events/ stories. Other stories in the series include the ‘History on Comillus’ and ‘Scipio & Hannibal’.  This particular piece depicts the history of ‘Decius Mus’, the Roman Consulate who devoted himself to the success of the Roman people.  This scene represents Decius consulting the augurs and taking leave of the senate before engaging in the war against the Samnites , which ultimately lead to his death. The original sketches to the cartoons have since disappeared.

Sir Dudley wrote to a friend “ I am now saying to my Antiquities veteres migrate coloni, having past a contract with Rubens the famous painter of Antwerp for a suite of tapestries and a certain number of pictures, which is a good bargain for us both…”
Rubens wrote to Sir Dudley Carlton on May 26th 1618 from Antwerp;“ I hope you will be satisfied with my works, both on account of  the variety of subjects and for the love and desire which urge me to serve your excellency with so much zeal”

A monumental  richly detailed work of art. The two highly ornate columns create a framed threshold through which you can see the scene unfold before your eyes (with a glimpse of the Roman city scope).  The frame continues with decorative and floral motifs, creating an entire border around the ‘event’, (stressing the importance of the story) The middle ground is dominated by a stepped balustrade. The drawing is constructed in such a way that the eye is at all times lead to the main event. Decius, on the right, surrounded by Roman heads of council, is being presents with a tribute, a sacrifice in the form of a small statue.

There is an immense subtle harmony of color, with the use of mainly earth tones and sudden bursts of various shades of blue, and the occasional hint of red. The Museo de Nacional de Parronico in Spain holds an almost identical tapestry in their collection.  This tapestry needs to be properly cleaned and restored before final installation.

7199 Brussels Tapestry