The Crossing of the Granicus, from The Story of Alexander the Great

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After a design by, and woven at the workshop of, Karel II van Mander (1579–1632)
Holland, Delft

The Crossing of the Granicus, from The Story of Alexander the Great, 1619

Wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave
408 x 419.9 cm (160 5/8 x 165 1/2 in.)
Gift of the Antiquarian Society of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1911.439

Alexander (r. 336–323 B.C.) was the son of King Philip II of Macedonia (r. 359–336 B.C.), unifier of the city-states of ancient Greece. Upon ascending the throne at age 20, Alexander crushed the rebellion of a number of Greek cities and embarked on a military campaign against the Persian Empire. The Crossing of the Granicus depicts the major battle that took place near Troy, where his adversaries had assembled to drive back his army. According to multiple accounts, Alexander was hit by an axeblow from an opposing general who, just before he could kill the king, was slain himself. Alexander won the battle, continuing on to conquer the Persian Empire. The tapestry’s complex composition, suggestion of movement, fanciful figure rendering, and bird’s-eye landscape view demonstrate Karel II van Mander’s familiarity with late-16th-century Mannerist painting.

— Exhibition label, The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries, November 1, 2008–January 4, 2009, Regenstein Hall.