Local | National Museum acquires and returns the cultural heritage

By on June 30, 2016
National Museum has by a generous donation succeeded in acquiring four tapestries from Beauvais with an unusually well-documented story and return them to Sweden. They were ordered in 1695 by Carl Piper to his palace in the old town of Stockholm. The wallpapers are in fantastic condition and has over the last hundred years been in Denmark and the United States.
Carl Piper (1647-1716) was a prominent representative of the petty nobles the CSO class that during Karl XI’s government pushed aside the old birth the aristocracy. He was knighted in 1678 and elevated to Baron and Count 1697. Seven years earlier, Piper married Christina Thorn (1673-1752) who was the daughter of his stepbrother. In 1692 he received a large property in the old town as a gift from his father in law, now called the Petersen House. The mission to modernize and equip it then became known as Piperska Palace (not to be confused with the house Piper erected in the neighboring district, and that goes under that name today) went to the foremost Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin D. Y. (1654-1728).
By Tessin correspondence with Daniel Cronström (1655-1719) who was a Swedish envoy in Paris, it is possible to follow the purchase of the now acquired the wallpapers along with an additional suite wallpaper, fabrics, upholstery and furniture of the highest quality and fashion. They discuss the choice of producer, artist, design, dimensions, border and size of the series “Grotesques the Berain, a name that the wallpaper suite got during the 1800s. Via Cronström letter dated January 7, 1695, we know today that the author of the models of this wallpaper suite was not the more famous Jean Berain (1640-1711), but the painter Jean Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699). In the same letter praising Cronström two wallpaper suites, both of which would fit in the newly decorated main floor of Piperska Palace. His choice of subjects was based on the relatively low ceiling height in the rooms, which requires that the motives can be adjusted to a lower altitude. His recommendation is a suite of “Port de mers,” Harbour scene (this wallpaper suite is still preserved in private ownership on Björnstorp in Skåne) and a suite of “Grotesque“, both produced by Philippe Behagle driven the wallpaper manufactory in Beauvais. Grotesques is a type of decoration that draws its inspiration from ancient decorative painting and to reach a larger audience by Raphael decorative painting in the Vatican conducted in the late 1400s. The first suite of grotesques were woven at Beauvais probably in 1688 and came to be produced until 1732 and was extremely popular. Contributing to the popularity was that the subject was easy to adjust in size and could be varied with different borders.
For Piper wallpaper designed Berain a new border which, however, did not include Pipers weapons or monogram, a detail that was deemed to take too long and would have delayed the order. Instead Cronström suggested that it would order upholstery with Piper monogram would be a suite with wallpaper. Several of these upholstery has survived and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Royal Collections, the National Museum and in private hands. Piper received the wallpaper in Stockholm in December 1695 and Tessin could report to Cronström that the client was very pleased with them. By Tessin and Cronström correspondence are the two wallpaper suites Piper ordered the best documented French wallpaper orders made by private individuals during the 1600s. It is also the first known instance of an order with matching wallpaper and upholstery.
We know very little about what happened to the four now acquired wallpapers after they were installed in Piperska palace on New Year 1696. Piper’s career continued and he came in 1700 to follow Charles XII in the field. He was a member of the king’s inner circle until he nine years later was captured after the battle of Poltava and died in captivity in 1716. The wallpaper likely left Sweden during the 1800s or early 1900s. In 1909 they were sold along with two additional wallpapers from the same suite as well as a fragment of the Danish collector George Jorck (1865-1955) to Mrs. Louise Mackay, an American collector. She later donated the fragment that was part of the purchase of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The wallpaper then came to be owned by her son Clarence H. Mackay (1874-1938) who was a great collector of weapons and tapestries. After his death, they were sold at Christie’s in New York, where they split and the came to be acquired by other buyers and are now in museum collections in England and Spain.
The acquisition of the wallpaper was made possible by an extremely generous bequest donation of the spouses Gunnar (1924-2015) and Ulla Trygg (1924-2015) from Sala, which, apart from some small legacy, bequeathed his entire estate to the National Museum. Nationalmuseum has no own funds to purchase art and crafts for instead collections are enriched by donations and private foundations and funds.
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