Winter, from The Seasons

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After a design by Charles Le Brun (French, 1619–1690)
Woven by Étienne Le Blond (French, 1652–1727) and Jean de La Croix (French, 1628-1712)
France, Paris

Winter, from The Seasons, 1700/20

Wool and silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave
540.07 x 384.81 cm (212 5/8 x 151 1/2 in.)
Gift of the Hearst Foundation in memory of William Randolph Hearst, 1954.261

Winter, from the series The Seasons, depicts Saturn and Juventas floating on a cloud in a barren landscape. The god of agriculture and time, Saturn is depicted with an hourglass. Juventas, as her cup suggests, pours the nectar of the gods at their banquets on Mount Olympus. The instruments and mask at her feet allude to ballet performances and masked balls, favorite pastimes of the French court. The wreath contains a ballet scene. The foreground shows winter vegetables, hunting gear, and the results of a successful hunt, which links Winter to Autumn. In the distance are the Porte de la Conférence and part of the Château de Tuileries, both in Paris. Both Winter and Autumn carry identical borders showing interlocking Ls, the cipher of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) and Louis XV (r. 1715–74); these are supplemented by additional devices of armor, juxtaposed and intertwined with floral garlands at both ends.

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


Winter presents a barren landscape, above which Saturn (the god of agriculture and time) and Juventas (the cupbearer to the gods on Mount Olympus) repose on a large cloud. The musical instruments and the mask at Juventas’s feet allude to ballet performances and masked balls—the favorite pastimes of the French court—while Saturn holds a floral wreath that features a ballet scene. In the foreground, a variety of winter vegetables are visible, along with a cage, nets, a gun, and game of various kinds: the results of a successful hunt. The buildings on the right of the tapestry are identified as the Palais du Louvre in Paris. The border imitates a gilt wood frame and contains interlocking Ls, the cipher of the French king Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715). It is supplemented by additional devices of armor above and below, juxtaposed and intertwined with floral garlands at both ends. The tapestry is from a series based on the four seasons (Autumn is also in the Art Institute’s collection), after a design by Charles Le Brun, who was appointed director of the Gobelins Manufactory in 1663.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 339.