More valuable than paintings? Exclusive look inside The Kimbell museum’s newest exhibit

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“Awe-inspiring” masterpieces of Renaissance history are on display in Fort Worth for a limited time.

Kimbell Art Museum has opened an exhibit of monumental tapestries that have never been shown together in the U.S. The exhibit, “Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries,” opened to the public Sunday and runs until Sept. 15.

Museum members got a sneak peek on Friday that included guided tours by docents of the seven tapestries, designed by Bernard van Orley, a leading Brussels artist of the time.

Docent Rebecca Pope looks through opera glasses at the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum. Bbinoculars or opera glasses allowed guests to better view the details on the tapestry due to its large size.
Docent Rebecca Pope looks through opera glasses at the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum. Bbinoculars or opera glasses allowed guests to better view the details on the tapestry due to its large size.

The works commemorate Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s victory over French King Francis I that ended the 16th century Italian Wars. The tapestries in wool, silk, gold and silver thread depict the Battle of Pavia. Their size of around 27 feet wide and 14 feet high show details of soldiers, horses and warfare throughout the battle.

“The immersive scale of the tapestries draws viewers into the world of Renaissance history, military technology, and fashion and will be complemented by impressive examples of arms and armor from the period,” the museum says.

Guests look up at a tapestry on display during ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday at the Kimbell Art Museum. The tapestry depicts the capture of the King of France by imperial soldiers.
Guests look up at a tapestry on display during ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday at the Kimbell Art Museum. The tapestry depicts the capture of the King of France by imperial soldiers.

Armor, swords, guns and daggers used during the battle are also on display in the middle of the exhibit.

The exhibit is organized by the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte and The Museum Box in collaboration with the Kimbell, the Minneapolis Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

“The tapestries were luxury items,” museum docent Ann Morton said. “So this is putting tapestries back (in the spotlight) and giving us a chance to really see the magnificence of these.”

Guests gaze up at a tapestry of the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum. The tapestries commemorate Emperor Charles V’s decisive victory over French King Francis I that ended the sixteenth-century Italian Wars.
Guests gaze up at a tapestry of the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum. The tapestries commemorate Emperor Charles V’s decisive victory over French King Francis I that ended the sixteenth-century Italian Wars.
McKinney resident Harvey Etter looks at a display in the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum.
McKinney resident Harvey Etter looks at a display in the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum.
Attendees stand in front of a knight statue at the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum.
Attendees stand in front of a knight statue at the ‘Art and War in the Renaissance: The Battle of Pavia Tapestries’ exhibit on Friday, June 14, 2024, at the Kimbell Art Museum.