Did you know that the Apocalypse Tapestry is the work of a Bruges artist?


By the second half of the 14th century, the Flemish artist Jean Bondol had been working at the court of the French king, Charles V, since 1368. The artist is best known for his illuminations and a number of tapestry designs. He used his gifts for familiar realism and a sensitivity for the organisation of space to create a combination of innovative scenes, like those developed by Van Eyck for example, which gave rise to the International Gothic style of 1400.


Around 1375, Louis I, Duke of Anjou and the King's brother, called on the Bruges artist to create the cartoons for a tapestry on absolutely unprecedented scale, the Apocalypse of Saint John. This commission was that of an extravagant prince who dreamt of making his mark on the world. Magnificent and lavish, these tapestries, with the end of time as their theme, were also the largest ever woven in the Middle Ages! The set originally consisted of six giant panels measuring 23.50 m long by 5.70 m high. Laid end to end, they totalled 141 m in length with a surface area of 800 m2. Today, despite the ravages of time, the tapestry is still 103 m long. This medieval masterpiece can be admired at the Château d'Angers, an impressive fortress with seventeen towers that stood guard over the Maine River during the Hundred Years' War.


Other works by Jean Bondol have survived, including an illuminated Bible dating from 1372 known as the History Bible of Jean de Vaudetar. He is also credited with a large mural of Saint Christopher (church in Semur-en-Auxois).