Flemish tapestries brought back to life by Belgian bath

Art of War Flemish tapestries rehung

Two large Flemish tapestries, which have hung on the walls of Blenheim Palace for more than 300 years, have been restored to their best following a special bath in Belgium. As part of a year-long conservation project, the two 3.8m high wall hangings were transported across the Channel to a specialist cleaning facility, submerged in a large bath and gently agitated to remove harmful pollutants.

The tapestries, by Flemish weaver Judocus de Vos, are part of the Art of War series. They are considered of international historical importance, having been commissioned by the First Duke of Marlborough following the War of the Spanish Succession between 1706 and 1710.

Blenheim Palace’s Head of Collections, Kate Ballenger, who is overseeing the conservation, said, “At over 300 years old, the tapestries are remarkably well preserved ….. however abrasive dust and dirt carried in the air can accumulate amongst the threads, obscuring the designs and causing damage.”

“They are also under considerable stress simply hanging on the wall, supporting their own immense weight,” she added.

Experts rehang Flemish tapestries at Blenheim Palace.

After cleaning, the tapestries were returned to the UK for final conservation work, and to have the old metal press-stud fastenings replaced by Velcro, allowing them to be moved more easily.

“This essential conservation work is returning the tapestries to their former glory and helping to protect them for future generations to enjoy,” said Ballenger.

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