KARCHER, Nicolas
(b. ?, Bruxelles, d. 1562, Mantova)


Nicolas Karcher (Nicola Carchera), Flemish tapestry weaver active in Italy. From c. 1517 he and his brother Giovanni Karcher were working for the Este court in Ferrara, organizing a large workshop for Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara and Modena. That same year Nicolas went to Brussels and returned with eight weavers, including Jan Rost. Nicolas worked with his brother on the Battle of the Gods and Giants (four pieces; destroyed), the cartoons of which were by the Dossi brothers and Giulio Romano. In 1539, however, Karcher was invited to set up his own workshop in Mantua by Federico II Gonzaga, 5th Marchese and 1st Duke of Mantua, and took ten workers with him to Mantua.

In October 1545 Karcher moved to Florence. His workshop first wove a trial Lamentation (1546; Florence, Uffizi) and a trial pack-cover (destroyed), before a three-year contract was signed by Cosimo I, Duke (later Grand Duke) of Tuscany, on 20 October 1546. Karcher's rival Rost had also established a workshop in Florence at this time, but on 17 November 1550 Karcher's contract was renewed until 21 October 1553. Karcher participated in the weaving of tapestries for the Duke including the Story of Joseph series (1546-?53), and the Resurrection altarpiece (c. 1546; Florence, Uffizi) after Salviati, for Benedetto Accolti, Cardinal of Ravenna.

In January 1554 Karcher finished his work in Florence and apparently returned to Mantua. On 15 July 1555 Marchese Guglielmo Gonzaga gave Karcher an eight-year patent to weave in Mantua, with 11 other workers. His workshop's masterpiece from this period is the set of the six Stories of Moses with spalliere of Putti with Garlands (four Milan, Museo del Duomo; three destroyed). Karcher must be ranked high among Europe's most gifted 16th-century tapestry weavers. He favoured juxtaposing bright colours and the use of flamelike hatching.