The first three of ten tapestries from the Life of Saint Remi, an early 16th-century work tracing the life of the bishop who baptized Clovis, have returned to Reims after their restoration in Belgium. They will be presented to the public for European Heritage Days.

These three pieces, the most emblematic of which represents the baptism of Clovis by Bishop Saint Remi, benefit from a completely redesigned scenography, in the museum adjoining the Saint-Remi Basilica. They were the subject of a dusting, cleaning and restoration campaign, including the installation of a lightweight linen lining at the royal factory De Wit (Belgium), a world reference in the field. The cost of the operation for all ten tapestries amounts to 350,000 euros. “This is the largest tapestry conservation campaign underway in France,” said Pierre Maes, director of the factory during a presentation to the press.

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The other pieces will gradually return to Reims, four in 2024, the last in 2025. Listed as Historic Monuments since 1896, these tapestries are “exceptional” by their size, five meters by five, and “because they constitute a series which tells a history in its entirety,” highlighted Bénédicte Hernu, director of the historical museums of the City of Reims. The tapestries, which had no longer been presented to the public since 2017 to protect them from the harmful effects of light, had been commissioned by the Archbishop of Reims, Robert de Lenoncourt, admiring his illustrious predecessor who, in the 5th century, baptized in Reims Clovis I, king of the Franks.

In 1916, during the First World War, nine pieces of the ensemble were evacuated to Paris to escape bombing. Remaining in Reims, the tenth would have been riddled with bullets, according to some accounts. Its future restoration by the De Wit factory should allow us to be clear about it.

Saint-Remi Museum – 53 rue Simon – 51100 Reims, every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.