During a sale orchestrated by Christie’s at the end of September 2023, for the fabulous private collection of Charlie Watts, former drummer of the Rolling Stones, who died in 2021, the Museum of Bayeux acquired a life-size Victorian replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, a rare heritage piece that bears witness to the history of history of embroidery.
Charlie Watts didn’t just play the drums. He was a fervent collector of literature and had collected works by some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Among the 289 lots, including rare original copies of Agatha Christie and a 1925 edition of Gatsby the Magnificent, included an original Victorian replica of the Bayeux Bayeux Tapestry, for which the Town of Bayeux won the auction at 16 000£.
This life-size image of the 11th-century embroidery was produced in 1874 based on the first photographic campaign of the work, carried out 2 years earlier by the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria & Albert Museum). This reproduction, on a scale of 1, is presented on two original 140cm-high oak supports on which the image unfolds.
This is the longest photographic panorama of the 19th century, and it played a major role in popularising the image of the Bayeux Tapestry throughout the world. In fact, this replica of the Bayeux Tapestry was exhibited at several Universal Exhibition, including that of 1873 (London, Royal Albert Hall) and 1893 (Chicago, Women’s Building).
“It’s a unique object, of an impressive size, whose origin and history could not leave us indifferent. We decided to follow the auction closely, even though we had little hope of acquiring it, thinking that the price would soar. In the end, the 14th and final bid went to the museum! This acquisition is a real treasure trove of heritage that we hope to be able to exhibit in the future museum, bringing us closer to the source of its creation after 150 years apart.” says Antoine Verney, curator of the Bayeux Tapestry Museum
INFO: This object will be displayed in the future museum of the Bayeux Tapestry, not before 2027.