The Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1080)
by an unknown English weaver

The Bayeux Tapestry (height 51 cm, width more than 70 m) is an impressive example of Romanesque art, but above all, it is one of the most outstanding landmarks of European history. A continuous Latin inscription and a frieze of fifty-eight embroidered scenes report on the Norman conquest of England in the year 1066. The trees and towers interspersed between the separate episodes articulate the events without interrupting the flow of the visual narration. With few exceptions, the events are depicted in the historically correct sequence, each of the protagonists appearing several times. They are identifiable despite the fact that no attempt at portrait likeness was made.

The borders accompanying the main scenes at top and bottom are in part decorative, in part depictions of legends, and in part describe subplots or anticipate things to come. Towards the end, where the Battle of Hastings rages, the lower border is devoted to hordes of bowmen, dead and wounded, and the plundering of casualties - all in a naturalistic style that transcended the norms of the art of the day. The frieze-like visual narration leads the eye from phase to phase. The tapestry's vivid action has frequently been compared to a film or comic strip. The suspenseful dramaturgy of the whole transforms the tapestry into a masterwork of the creative imagination.

Many art historians assume that the tapestry was made in southern England (perhaps at the St Augustine monastery in Canterbury) for Odo of Bayeux, bishop and half-brother of William the Conqueror. Its stylistic unity indicates that it may well have been designed by a single artist. It is also assumed that the tapestry was hung in the hall of a bishop's palace, be it in Bayeux or in southern England. It is presently exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France, with a Victorian replica in Reading, Berkshire, England.

Preview Picture Data Info
The Bayeux Tapestry: Initial scene
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry: Unidentified cleric and Aelfgyva
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry: Bishop Odo
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (Battle of Hastings, detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (Battle of Hastings, detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux


The Bayeux Tapestry (detail)
c. 1080
Wool embroidered on a linen background
Musée de la Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, Bayeux



Summary of tapestries
Tapestries by unknown weavers
14th-17th centuries
Bayeux Tapestry (c. 1080)
Tapestries by known weavers



© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.