Tapestries: The Golden Age’s Golden Art Form

One Northern European art form helped shape the Renaissance and spirit of Europe

“Joshua and David (from the Nine Heroes Tapestries),” circa 1405. Wool warp, wool wefts, 14 feet by 20 feet 10 inches. Munsey Fund, 1932; gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1947; gift of George A. Douglass, 1947. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

When you think of the Renaissance, you likely first think of Michelangelo or da Vinci, perhaps the Golden Ratio, and one city in particular—Florence. But what you may not know is that artisans to the north were in many ways setting a standard that their Southern European brethren would covet and emulate.


“King Arthur (from the Nine Heroes Tapestries),” circa 1400. Munsey Fund, 1932; gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1947. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

“There is a whole aesthetic in [Northern Europe] which is perceived as the ep