CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Weaving Waves: The History and Conservation of Maritime Tapestries

Symposium: 12 January 2024

This is a hybrid event: it can be attended in person or through streaming services.

Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, European tapestry centers grew in parallel with maritime nations. The same kings, nobles and governments who invested in tapestry and tapestry workshops were also investing in navies and trading companies. This dual interest led to maritime tapestry commissions which, while less common than other subjects, resulted in politically and culturally significant works of art.

Maritime tapestries pose a particular set of challenges in their conservation and display within museums. As well as issues arising from size and weight, which affect all tapestries, the structural integrity of maritime tapestries is often further compromised by the expanses of fragile silk present in their depictions of water and sky. Their representation of real battle events also brings in issues of authenticity and the need to balance stability and accuracy in conservation work.

Occasioned by the recent conservation of tapestries depicting the Battle of Solebay designed by the marine artists Willem van de Velde the Elder and Willem van de Velde the Younger, this symposium offers the first exploration of maritime tapestry as a genre.

The program includes sessions on both the history and conservation of maritime tapestry, chaired by Helen Wyld and Ksynia Marko, as well as discussion on how historical research and conservation practices inform one another. Speakers include Zenzie Tinker, Koenraad Broesens, Caroline Van Santen, Stacey Clapperton, Sara Reiter, Alice Young and Maya Wassell Smith.

This hybrid conference warmly invites people from all backgrounds to attend in person or online For information on the program, registration or accessibility, please see the RMG website.