In ancient winter times, heavy tapestries used to insulate the fireplace-warmed chambers. Besides their practical use, tapestries had a decorative purpose, and commissioners contended the best weavers.
The Gallery in the Vatican offers you two different collections.
The workshop of Pietr Van Aelst in Brussels produced the finest examples in all Europe, and a whole series is on display on one side of the room. Colorful silk and wool, with silver-gilt threads knotted into millions of knots, give life to episodes from the life of Christ.
On the opposite wall, the leading actor is Pope Urban VIII, the baroque decorator of St. Peter and rebuker of Galileo’s theories. His life woven in the Barberini workshop, directed by his nephew, a rich and cultivated art amateur and collector of antiques.