As you enter the museum gallery, the Triumph of Virtue—Prudence, a 16th century Flemish tapestry fills one gallery wall. The tapestry measures 18 feet wide by 15 feet tall and is flanked by two full-size suits of armor that date from 1515 and 1540. The scene is dimly lit by dramatic lighting.
On the wall to the left of Prudence is Fortitude and on the right is Justice — these amazing tapestries came to the Fine Arts Museum from Hearst Castle in San Simeon. They arrived in three long rolls and immediately went to the basement for storage. 20 years later, they emerged, and after a six-year restoration project they are ready to be viewed by the public .
A closeup of Prudence in her chariot shows her looking into a mirror. The restorer sees the wear and tear (broken yarn, repair stitching, and missing warp threads), but from six feet the repairs blend and the restoration cannot be detected.
Patience, another virtue, is rewarding for the viewer. Here is a look at a visitor to the gallery.
Virtue may be its own reward, but in this case the Virtues got a helping hand from the art restorers. You can read more about the project in the FAMSF Blog (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) and SFGATE, the Chronicle’s news site.
The Triumph of Virtue tapestries will be on display at the San Francisco Legion of Honor through June 28th. Give yourself a treat and visit the museum during the quiet time before the summer tourist season.
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