The Tapestries at the Conventual Church of the Knights of Malta.
In 1697, as the Spanish Grand Master Ramon Perellos y Roccaful sat in his palace, contemplating on the gift which he should give to the conventual church of the Hospitaller Order of the Knights of St John the Baptist in order to immortalise his magestry, it was the Catholic monarchs of Europe that he sought to emulate. The Spanish Infanta Isabella’s taste for exuberance influenced his choice most and, like her, he gave a set of extraordinary tapestries. He must have thought of how this gift would portray him as a devout religious ruler and how, just like the Infanta Isabella’s legacy immortalised her as a key figure in Habsburg patronage, so would he be immortalised. The gift of tapestries portraying the Triumph of the Eucharist was a completely original Catholic Reformation graphic narrative conceived by Peter Paul Rubens in consultation with the Infanta and her retinue of theological advisors.
This book offers a glimpse into one of the most significant commissions of the Catholic Reformation still very valid in the late seventeenth century when Perellos was placing his commission. Recent scholarship sheds light on many facets of the historical context of the commission, its ambitious patron and the weavers’ approach to the design of the tapestry series. Studies based on archival research illuminate the details of the design, and the commission for their manufacture. An analysis of the political and religious upheaval in the territories of Catholic Europe in the late seventeenth century sheds light on the difficult rule Grand Master Perellos experienced, and the intention of his ostentatious gift.
By: Cynthia De Giorgio