In 1515 Pope Leo X (r. 1513-21) commissioned Raphael (1483-1520) to create ten full-scale coloured cartoons for a set of tapestries he wished to have made at the Brussels workshop of the renowned Flemish tapestry-maker, Pieter van Aelst (died 1536). The tapestries were intended to be hung, albeit only on very special occasions, in the Sistine Chapel.
The tapestries, which, apart from one, measure between three and a half metres by four/five metres, depict scenes from the lives of St Peter and St Paul. The first seven tapestries arrived in Rome at the end of 1519 and were first hung in the chapel on December 26th, which is St Stephen's Day. All ten tapestries had arrived by the time of Leo X’s death on December 1st, 1521.
The tapestries are on display in the Pinacoteca in the Vatican Museums.
By great fortune, seven of Raphael's cartoons have survived and form part of the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.