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detail of Whale 02 - Valois Tapestries
Detail of Whale, one of the Valois Tapestries, on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States.
None of the tapestries is formally named. This one is known as Fête nautique sur l'Adour and also as "Whale". Measuring 355 by 394 centimeters (140 by 155 inches), this work depicts a banquet given by Catherine de' Medici on June 24, 1565, on an island on the Adour river near Bayonne. As the attendees traveled in boats to the island, music was played and an artificial whale "attacked" the boats. The god Neptune accompanies King Henry III, while tritons and sirens surround and praise Henry for defeating the whale. On the riverbanks, shepherds (a metaphor for the provinces of France) dance to the music of French horns. Catherine de' Medici, King Henry II, King Henry III, King Henry IV, Margaret of Valois, and Charles III, Duke of Lorraine are all prominently depicted.