July, from The Medallion Months

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After a design by an unidentified Flemish artist in the circle of Bernard van Orley (c. 1488–1541)
Flanders, Brussels

July, from The Medallion Months, before 1528

Wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave
399.7 x 448.3 cm (157 3/8 x 176 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Chauncey McCormick and Mrs. Richard Ely Danielson, 1950.1579

This tapestry and its companion, February, belong to the earliest of the four Medallion Months suites known today. The 12 months of the year were an extremely popular subject for tapestry cycles. In this particular series, each hanging has a rectangular, vertical format; a central mythological figure; an oval band depicting the signs of the zodiac, personifications of the hours, and other symbols of the passage of time; as well as figural compositions outside the medallion, in the four corners of the tapestry. The zodiac sign Leo at the top of the medallion band, with the inscription JVLIVS (July) below, reveals this tapestry’s subject. The inscription RVMANA CONCINE appears on either side of the central deity, identifying her as Runcina, goddess of mowing and harvesting. The grotesque figures outside the medallion personify diseases believed to be caused by the star Sirius, which appears during the canicula, or dog days, of summer.

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