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Tapestry showing Don Quixote Guided by Folly, Setting Forth to be a Knight-Errant
From the seventh series of "The Story of Don Quixote" woven 1762-87 at Gobelins tapestry manufactory

Woven at the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, Paris, 1699 - present. In the workshop of Jacques Neilson, French (born England), 1714 - 1788. Central composition after a 1716 painting by Charles Antoine Coypel, French (active Paris), 1694 - 1752.

Made in Paris, France, Europe


Wool and silk; woven on a low-warp loom

12 feet 2 inches × 11 feet 8 inches (370.8 × 355.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 388, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Widener Dixon, 1945

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The central scene of this tapestry follows the composition of one of the twenty-eight paintings Charles Coypel made of subjects from Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote. In this weaving, loosely based on part 1, chapter 8 of the book, Don Quixote is about to attack a windmill, which he sees as a threatening giant.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This tapestry depicts the famous passage from Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote in which the knightly hero sets off to attack a windmill, which he sees as an armed giant. In the painting on which this composition is based, Charles Coypel took liberties with the text by adding the peasant woman Dulcinea (Don Quixote's Empress of La Mancha) and an airborne figure of Folly brandishing a jester's head. This personification is a clever play on the convention of including a figure of Victory in scenes of departing warriors. This witty approach extends to the border, where a monkey brandishes a lance and military trophies are overturned by fleeing sheep and obscured by luxuriant swags of flowers. Light-hearted and sumptuous, the Don Quixote tapestries produced by the Gobelins manufactory in Paris were among the most popular weavings of the eighteenth century. Coypel created twenty-eight compositions based on the novel, and nine series were ordered from 1720 to 1794. During the French Revolution, even the censors approved the series as representing the follies of the deposed aristocracy. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 145.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.