IT depicts the joyous marriage between two country-dwelling peasants whose story captivated France in the 17th century.

And now curator's at Glasgow's Burrell Collection say that restoring the tapestry's finely-woven threads has been a labour of love as they prepare it for the day the museum opens its doors after a multi-million refit.

Conservators have been hard at work bringing a rarely-seen artwork back to life in time for the Burrell museum to reopen to the public once more.

Four months of painstaking needlecraft is being carried out on the ‘Story of Gombaut and Macée: The Wedding Procession’, which was woven around 1610.

Having rarely been on display, 'The Wedding Procession’ is one of the largest tapestries in the Burrell Collection, measuring 1.87m high by 4.63m wide.


The Wedding Procession

The handwoven scene is the only surviving section of a series which depicted the story of Gombaut and Macée, who symbolised idyllic rural life and the earthly pleasures of living with nature to an increasingly urbanised elite.

Bawdy captions in French narrate the picture, which features a wedding procession of men and women led by a bagpiper.

The tale of Gombaut and Macée was a familiar subject for French tapestry makers, with several collections housing versions of the tale.

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Both were fictional shepherds and scenes from their pastoral lives, love affair and eventual marriage were popular subjects for weavers during the 1600s.

Tapestries featuring the two peasants were either created as single artworks, or as a series of individual scenes played out across several tapestries, such as the one owned by the Burrell Collection.


The museum is going through a refit 

Few intact series remain, though some that do depict a grisly end to the story, where the country-dwelling Gombaut is killed by a pack of wolves.

Textile Conservator Bevan O’Daly has been placed in charge of the restoration process, which involves meticulously bringing it back to life through washing and painstakingly replacing worn threads.

The process begins by wet-cleaning the tapestry using a special table which allows water to run through the fabric to remove ingrained dirt.

Left to dry naturally, the tapestry is then attached to a special frame for conservation stitching. Weak areas of the tapestry, including where the original wool or silk has degraded leaving bare warps, are given additional attention.

Brick couching, a type of intensive sewing, is then used to replace any worn patches using new wool or silk in matching colours.

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Old repairs which had used inaccurate colours particularly around the figures’ faces and hands, are also being removed in preparation for new brick couching, ensuring all repair work blends in with the original colours of the tapestry.

With the original dark brown or black outline reinstated, the figures depicted in the tapestry are now being brought back in to the foreground.


The Burrell Collection boasts a wealth of tapestries 

The collection of 200 tapestries acquired by Glasgow shipping magnate Sir William Burrell is one of the largest and most important in the world.

Burrell and his wife, Constance, decorated their homes extensively with many tapestries adorning the walls.

Photographs of thir homes at Great Western Terrace, Glasgow, and Hutton Castle in the Scottish Borders, show several of Burrell’s early purchases as they hung in situ.

A team of four textile conservators are caring for works in readiness for the Burrell’s re-opening in Spring 2021.

The estimated £66million refurbishment of the museum building will include the redisplay of approximately 40 tapestries, from large, open displays, to small tapestries in cases.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow Life said: "This particular wool and silk tapestry will be displayed at the Burrell Collection as it would have been displayed in the Burrell’s home."

Bevan O’Daly, added: “It has been incredibly rewarding to work on ‘The Marriage Procession’ and to see it slowly come back to life.

“The treatment of this tapestry will take four months of solid, continuous work from start to finish.

"After which, this rarely-seen tapestry will be displayed as it would have been in the Burrell’s domestic setting, giving visitors to the Burrell and Glasgow an opportunity to see this rare and important work.”