The exhibition Beastly! highlights the particularly rich theme of animal representation in the art of tapestry.


Oudenaarde has always been known for its tapestry production. It experienced an absolute peak in the sixteenth century. The art of tapestry not only flourished in Oudenaarde, but also stimulated production in the nearby centers of Enghien and Geraardsbergen.


Animals are surprisingly common in tapestries of this period. Their appearance ranges from wild animals, such as a rhinoceros cloaked in large-leafed greenery, to luxuriant hunting scenes with dogs, deer, and lions, to mythical scenes with dragons and forest landscapes with birds of all kinds.


The highly varied representation of animals also offers a glimpse into early modern society and the vital role that animals played in it. Familiar animals as part of everyday life, exotic beasts that were shipped from the ‘new world’ to Europe and ended up in royal menageries – the predecessors of modern-day zoos – creatures of fable and bizarre monsters in mythical and religious realms: they all pass in review!


The MOU – Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes – shows for the first time some thirty tapestries from Oudenaarde, Enghien, and Geraardsbergen in which animals play the leading role. Confronting the tapestries are all kinds of objects, including a cabinet of art and curiosities with mounted animals and other “naturalia,” a fantastic dragon skeleton, and a veritable animal parade. In this way, Beastly! offers the visitor a richly varied look at the wonderful world of animals in this period.









Tickets can be purchased in advance online via the link above - or on the day itself at the box office.
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© MOU Museum Oudenaarde en de Vlaamse Ardennen - design Digital Cordon Bleu