Jan Fabre, detail van De Strijdolifant (na Bosch), 2016, Het Noordbrabants Museum, 's-Hertogenbosch

Installation monumental tapestry Jan Fabre in Het Noordbrabants Museum

18 October
The lost tapestry, The Elephant, is acquiring a new life, thanks to a modern interpretation

’s-Hertogenbosch, 18th October 2016 - In the run up to the exhibition, Under the Spell of Bosch: Pieter Bruegel, Thé Tjong-Khing, Jan Fabre and Gurt Swanenberg (29th October 2016 to 29th January 2017) the monumental tapestry, The War Elephant (after Bosch) will be installed on Wednesday 26th October. The recently made tapestry, with a total surface area of 3 x 3.77 m, is a modern interpretation of the lost 16th century tapestry The Elephant based on a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. It was designed for the Bosch Year by the Belgian artist, Jan Fabre (Antwerp, 1958) and produced in the last few months by the TextielLab of the TextielMuseum in Tilburg as a commission of Het Noordbrabants Museum. The Friends of Het Noordbrabants Museum made the acquisition possible.

Lost tapestry

Between 1530 and 1540, a series of five tapestry copies were made in Brussels of paintings by Hieronymus Bosch. Four of these tapestries are now to be found in the royal collection of the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial but the fifth, The Elephant, had been lost in the intervening time. Bosch’s original work had also disappeared. The composition of the painting is well-known because of the 16th century prints from Alard Duhamel and Hieronymus Cock and a painting of an imitator. One print can be found in the collection of Het Noordbrabants Museum. They formed the starting point for Jan Fabre’s design.

 Jan Fabre’s design

Commissioned by Het Noordbrabants Museum, Jan Fabre has created a modern interpretation of the lost tapestry, making the series complete again. The internationally celebrated, Belgian artist has long been fascinated by Hieronymus Bosch as demonstrated by the series of mosaic panels Tribute to Hieronymus Bosch in Congo, which could be seen in Het Noordbrabants Museum last summer. Just as in the prints by Duhamel and Cock, an elephant with a castle on its back is central to Fabre’s piece. The elephant is attacked by groups of people united by flags and banners. These are the guilds, the weavers’ guild, the clothes-makers’ guild, etc. Fabre: “For me, the elephant in Bosch’s work is a symbol of power, but it is more the castle of love, a sovereign place dominated by serenity”.

The meaning of the elephant by Bosch

The ‘elephant with castle’ is a recurring theme in the art of the 15th and 16th centuries symbolizing strength. The battle against it is Bosch’s political allegory. The composition also has a double meaning. It is a warning for the consequences of impulses and passions. Regarded socio-politically, it is a condemnation of the trades which oppose the ‘strength’, which can be summarised as the central power.

Modern weaving techniques

Jan Fabre’s tapestry unites Bosch’s composition with the appearance of the original tapestries and has been woven with the most modern techniques. Led by the ‘master weaver’, Stef van Miero, the TextielLab’s Woven Product Designer, the tapestry came into being in close collaboration with the artist. Van Miero: “The process of Jan Fabre’s design in the TextielLab was set off against the methods of the 16th century. It was not about the latest materials for us, but the combination of skill and the most modern techniques.”

The ‘making of’ by Roel van Tour

Roel van Tour was commissioned by Het Noordbrabants Museum to film a ‘making of’ of the tapestry. The film (duration approx. 15 minutes) can be seen on the website of Het Noordbrabants Museum. The definitive version will also be integrated into the exhibition.

About Under the Spell of Bosch

Under the Spell of Bosch: Pieter Bruegel, Thé Tjong-Khing, Jan Fabre and Gurt Swanenberg will be in Het Noordbrabants Museum from 29th October 2016 to 29th January 2017. Het Noordbrabants Museum is bringing four generations of artists together whose work has been strongly influenced by Hieronymus Bosch. Apart from the tapestry and the print by Cock on which Jan Fabre’s The War Elephant (after Bosch) is based, a complete series and seldom seen prints by Pieter Bruegel (c. 1526-1569) of the seven deadly sins and virtues will be exhibited. They will be shown in combination with a contemporary interpretation of the seven deadly sins by Gurt Swanenberg (’s-Hertogenbosch, 1976). Thirty original drawings and preparatory sketches from the children’s book by Thé Tjong-Khing (Purworedjo, 1933) inspired by Bosch will also be included in the exhibition. The exhibition is the last in the series which Het Noordbrabants Museum organised in 2016 as part of the Jheronimus Bosch 500 National Event Year and it is a part of the Bosch Grand Tour.



Note for editors (not for publication) and photo opportunity invitation

You are invited to be present for the photo opportunity for the installation of the tapestry The War Elephant (after Bosch) by Jan Fabre on Wednesday 26th October 2016 at 10 am.

Admission is at the main entrance of Het Noordbrabants Museum, Verwersstraat 41. You will then have the opportunity to view the exhibition afterwards. There will also be the opportunity to put your questions to Paul Huys Janssen (curator of old masters) and Hans November (curator of 20th and 21st century art). A representative from the TextielMuseum will also be present to answer any questions about the process of making the tapestry.

RSVP: If you would like to be present and/or you would like to request an interview, we would ask you to get in touch with us no later than Tuesday 25th October 2016: Het Noordbrabants Museum: Heidi Vandamme, communication and marketing, hvandamme@hnbm.nl, M +31 (0)73 6877 843.