About This Artwork

Adapted from designs by Michiel Coxie (1499–1592)
Woven at the workshop of Albert Auwercx (1629–1709)
Flanders, Brussels

Cyrus Defeats Spargapises, from The Story of Cyrus, c. 1670

Wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave
384.8 x 412.1 cm (151 1/2 x 162 1/4 in.)

Gift of Honoré Palmer, 1938.1312

This tapestry is from a late-17th-century series derived from the earlier compositions of the Renaissance painter and designer Michiel Coxie. The Latin inscription in a cartouche in the upper border identified the subject as Cyrus the Great defeating the Scythians. This refers to an episode toward the end of Cyrus's extraordinary career when he attacked the land ruled by Queen Tomyris near the Caspian Sea. As recounted by Greek historians such as Herodotus, the Persian ruler lured the queen's son Spargapises into a trap, defeating him and taking him captive. However, Tomyris was so angered by her son's humiliation and subsequent suicide that she defeated Cyrus in battle and killed him.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website