First of all we focus on Tapestries Interior Design from the Architecture and Interior Design perspective. Not an Historical or craft professional, however we respect both similarly.
A hidden gem for Interior Design. An optional use for a wall to display Art. It is not fashionable, which is good (Style isn’t either YSL), hence you can still buy antique tapestries for a relatively good price. Hence there are still a few bargains out there as well, furthermore we wish you luck finding one.
I am a modernist, very contemporary, as much as I can be. Furthermore I am even a minimalist, in both my Architecture and my Interiors. Most noteworthy I do like antiques. I do for many reasons, but certainly so for visual attributes.
Beauty is timeless hence an interior can make a statement by adding a classic, antique, or piece of History to it.
No, you are not trying to make the contemporary design look acceptable or traditional at all. While you are just showing a reference to time, to art and to composition, sometimes so called Eclecticism.
Furthermore I look at it as if a modern Museum is showing antiques, would there be a contradiction of styles there, certainly not. Finally forget attribution or styles, while as a designer you should just do what you feel like doing.
I grew up in a family of artists. While my elder sister of two Pati (Patricia Jacobs Barquet †) an Anthropologist and Historian specializing in Immigration, took tapestry lessons with Saul Borisov in Mexico City.
Consequently as a teenager I could see there was certainly something there. My mother a Decorator and Painter, had hung a couple of S. Borisov tapestries on the walls, and my sister’s loom in progress sat around.
45 years ago while in an antiques market in Amsterdam I bought a tapestry of a dutch Interior. I was very young almost didn’t know much about Art (though I was studying Architecture), it gave me a visual of how people lived before right there on a canal. Because it was an Interior of a typical home, not a Palace. So I liked it and I bought it. I was even more passionate about “Contemporary Design” then I guess. I still have my tapestry and love it. Not shown.
Recently I have been shopping around for my Interior Design projects in San Francisco. As a result we show below some of the pieces we have come across. While we have considered or purchased some for our clients. Finally we don’t know if those shown are still available.
I am not trying to increase their value or speculate, or advertise for them. Above all I am just trying to provide perspective to the designer. So you know what is catalogues and Historical, what is available, similarly what is new in the trade.
In my opinion Tapestries can be an good investment. I don’t think you are going to find the next “Unicorn” at the Paris Flea Market. Nor that anyone is going to sell their masterpieces for nothing. Rather some good value Antique Tapestries, or even more some of the more contemporary ones by recognized artists, might be there for your projects. Keep looking.
Finally of our design selections, when possible budget allowing, hence would be to use the largest possible piece for a room or a wall. Probably to cover it.
In Blenheim and other Palaces, some tapestries bend or turn at a corner and continue on the other wall.
Pleats are an interesting option too. Because a piece might be to long for a wall, as a result by pleating the ends you can make it fit. This happened historically to.
Visually you want to preclude the mixture of styles, you have to let the piece overwhelm the wall. While on the other hand there aren’t that many available walls on most homes for 17′ x 10′ pieces of Art.
Mobilière in French or Mueble in Spanish, the terms are used for furniture, and mean movable. In Palaces, some Furniture was moved around, when a king traveled say from Versailles to the Loire Valley, he carried his furniture as often the second Castle meant it kept no furniture. I suspect the Tapestry was more like a Movable, easy to roll and bring along and have as a background to all the memory of a battle won, or a religious motive. A Masterpiece painting would not travel as well, while the Tapestry offered warmth as well.
Historically tapestries were used in castles to add warmth. Also to cover spare stone walls or even window openings. Probably depicting a battle that might have been won, and for which a castle or palace was granted, such as the case in Blenheim. The Duke of Marlborough’s battles won against Louis XIV. See on our Pinterest board.
The point is they were seen as Art on the wall. There is so much written by experts (which we are not), hence so we will let you read elsewhere. Some of many sources are listed, or linked below, for you to get a full historical perspective. Finally we just give our perspective after a very limited research, and after learning the value, of what is available with some references.
The Artist themselves did not weave the tapestries. While they designed them and that did not make them less of an Art form. Calder, Leger, Picasso, and many others licensed designs, and commissioned and oversaw the work for tapestries of their Art. Like today, Hirst, Koons, Murakami and Weiwei, they design or create the theme and then have a team execute them. Because otherwise it would be an impossible task by one person to achieve. That does not make them less of an art form.
Same happens with Architecture or Interiors as an Art. The Architect or Interior Designer designs the building, its components, the method to build it and all details through its completion, however he/she doesn’t break the ground or put up the bricks. Tapestries are the same where Rafael, Rubens, Coecke and other Artists designed and painted and then created a Cartoon.
The production facility might not necessarily be right there, where the Artist or Castle is, not even the same country, from France to Brussels or so. Flanders, Aubusson, Brussels, Mortlake, all production centers where the artist was not necessarily based.
“From the Middle Ages until the late eighteenth century, the courts of Europe lavished vast sums of money on tapestries made in silks and wools, after designs by the leading artists of the day. Yet, the art history establishment continues to misrepresent this medium as a decorative art of lesser importance.
Tapestry in the Baroque challenges this notion, demonstrating that tapestry remained among the most prestigious figurative media throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
In the 17th century important workshops were established at Mortlake on the River Thames, immediately attracting important commissions.
From around 1620, Mortlake produced the greatest tapestries in Europe, including The Story of Vulcan and Venus. Also The Acts of the Apostles, The Elements, The Great Horses, The Hunters’ Chase, and The Story of Dido and Aeneas.
Production was disrupted by the civil war but work was revived with the restoration of the monarchy, when new workshops were established at Lambeth.
London continued to be an important centre, with celebrated makers such as Thomas Poyntz (active 1677 – 1688), John Vanderbank (d1717), Joshua Morris, and William Bradshaw (d1775). In the 1750’s a short-lived venture was established at Fulham employing French carpet and tapestry weavers and some exquisite works were produced.
The industry declined in the second half of the 18th century.”
From Julia Boston.
Themes were usually Religion, Mythologie, Royal, Hunting, non purely decorative until more recent times. See Mallet.
Some of the best know Tapestries and certainly some of our favorites include the “Unicorn Tapestry series”. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.© Below, one of seven in the series. Gifted by John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937, he paid 1,000,000.00 for 5 of the 7 “Unicorn” series. All 7 now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
It is interesting to see that Tapestries were often created in series. Such as Rafael -Sistine Chapel, or the Unicorn. If a series can all be put together at a Museum or a Palace great, yet this is very difficult, so don’t feel guilty if you discover and buy one of a series, naturally of lesser importance.
The Unicorn is Found (from the Unicorn Tapestries).
The Artist such as Rafael would do a “Cartoon” to serve as a part of the Tapestry process. The Cartoons of the Rafael Sistine Chapel Series are part of The Royal Collection (UK), but on loan at the great Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. (7 of ten surviving, commissioned by Leo X). The Tapestries one shown below are still hung occasionally at the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican Palace. Rafael was paid 1000 ducats, while producing the tapestries in Brussels cost 15,000.
Raffaello Sanzio – Death of Ananias – WGA18889 – Raphael Cartoons – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Death of Ananias. Raphael Cartoons.
“This international loan exhibition (Grand Design at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, now closed) explores the achievements of the great northern Renaissance master Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550). As the impressive body of his surviving drawings makes clear. While Coecke was a master designer, devising projects across media, from tapestry series, to panel paintings, prints, stained glass, and goldsmith’s work. The exhibition unites nineteen of the grand tapestries he designed, woven in the great workshops of Brussels for collectors from Emperor Charles V, France’s François Ier, and Henry VIII of England, to Cosimo de Medici” http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/grand-design
The Story of Vertumnus and Pomona: Vertumnus in the Guise of a Fruit picker tapestry. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. ©Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, M.C.G., photo by Manufactures De Wit.
We are sometimes shopping for Tapestries as we do for other works of Art, or FF&E for our clients. Among the Tapestries we have discovered recently on the market are the ones below. Please find current dealers list at the bottom, the first three we found on 1stdibs, a great sources for antiques including tapestries. The following two at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.
Some pieces in the market could be called Museum quality, however by no means are those pieces shown here comparable to the Top three upper tapestries in the best Museums and collections in the world.
Disclaimer. This should no be construed as a sales or endorsement intended in the following reviews. The texts are those provided by the Antique Dealer on 1stdibs or other sources at the time of our inquire.
There will be more written in the description below, as the Masterpieces above are all so well know, with entire books and publications dedicated to them. We have provided links for them as well.
17th Century French Religious Tapestry, New Testament, Marriage of Mary and Joseph
Mary and Joseph with the High Priest at center and a dove above them. attended by a group of Noblemen and with a mother and child seated in the right foreground.
Enclosed in a border characterized by top and bottom cartouches, supported by Putti A star above and the armorial of Pierre Guischard below. Sis additional cartouches.
Wool and silk inlay.
17th. Century. Flemish Baroque. A religious and very current theme. We considered this one for one of our Interior Design project in the San Francisco Bay. Colors were perfect for the room. It was a bit large for the wall, by about 2 feet (16’6″ x 10′). However not a problem, they can be pleated. Not the border, but right after it. They kindly staged the pleating for us to consider it based on that option.
The Battle of Jerusalem. Magnificent 17th century Flemish tapestry hand woven in wool & silk with beautiful details throughout. ‘Flemish tapestries at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries meant primarily Brussels tapestries; the city had become the principal centre for tapestry weaving, with a character and technique quite unlike that in other workshops.
Novel characteristics too were the search for perfection, recognisable in the earliest works attributed, probably rightly, to Brussels, and a bias towards painting. Today the design of a tapestry is often traced to a famous painting as in the many representations of the Baptism of Christ.
The tapestry depicts Apollo at Vulcan’s forge, the moment when the god Apollo visits Vulcan and tells him that his wife Venus is having an affair with Mars the god of war.
Apollo is shown wearing a red toga turning towards Vulcan who is not seen but his anvil and tools are depicted to the bottom right hand side of the tapestry. Venus and Mars are seen to the left in an embrace. Apollo’s chariot is shown in the clouds above his head.
Surrounded by a very distinctive architecturally composed border with side caryatid figures with the male satyr head and torso to the left and the female on the right. both supported upon exaggerated corbels with enveloping acanthus leaf, with pendant ribbon held fruit swags and architectural plinth base hoof feet, woven with a blue ground.
The top and bottom horizontal borders having a cornice and architrave on a blue ground.
Woven in wools and silks from the series Venus and Vulcan, reduced in size.
An English Mythological Tapestry, Mortlake, London Late 17th/Early 18th.
Celadon Park in Surrey, UK, burned to the shell in April 2015, had an important collection of Mortlake tapestries. They list “Textiles” destroyed, we are not sure what happened to the tapestries or if any survived, nor if they were properly catalogued.There was actually a room called the “Tapestries room”. Sad!
After a design attributed to Toussaint Dubreuil (French, 1561-1602), the border design attributed to Laurent Guyot (died after 1644).
Comans- de la Planche manufactory, atelier under supervision of Hans Taye, Faubourg Saint-Marcel, Paris.
Provenance: The Wildenstein collection
This mythological tapestry depicts goddess Diana and her nymphs seated in the foreground, behind them Apollo pointing to a dark shade in the water and Diana taking aim at the figure, set within an open wooded landscape, within rich borders with floral swags and hunters and dogs to the angles.
The top with a blank blue cartouche flanked by youths, the bottom with a cartouche surmounted by a dog’s head and depicting the dead Actaeon before Diana and her attendants. The side borders each with a cartouche with boar’s heads, the blue outer guard border with fleur-de-lys flanked by a P and with monogram HT.
This tapestry is virtually identical, both in the design and size, to one that formed part of the series of The Story of Diana that belonged to cardinal Richelieu and which was recorded in his inventory in 1642. The series was one of the five most expensive items in the inventory of the Palais, with a total of 1364 items listed, including all the silver, jewellery and paintings.
Ultimately the set of tapestries was bequeathed to Louis XIII, and it is then recorded in the Royal inventories in 1663 along with two other sets, both bearing the Royal coat-of-arms. The Richelieu set had a plain blue field in its place as on the example of the Wildenstein collection. Richelieu’s tapestries were recorded in 1789 in the apartments of the duc and duchess de Orleans.
Recently the Richelieu set was identified as being that in the mobilier national by Piero Boccardo (`Decouvertes a propos de l’Histoire de Diane de Toussaint Dubreuil’, La tapisserie au XVIIe siecle et les collections europeennes, Paris, 1999, pp. 53 – 54). This tapestry therefore forms part of a commission that has not yet been identified.
8/2019. My friend Beata Rosiak, form Poland. See below as well. Sent me a beautiful gift. A 2′ x 2′, or 60x60cm. Tapestry of her own weave. A dark background and an off white Torso in front. See below.
Rare Brussels mythological tapestry, early 18th century, depicting The Triumph of Flora from the Triumph of the Gods series. Currently exhibited at the Winter Antiques Show from January 21-31 in New York. Keshishian Carpets, London. For additional information on this piece @ http://docdro.id/1RSJo90
Recently we discovered the tapestry below at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show at Mallet Antiques booth.
It is interesting to see that the theme is floral and geometric, not Religious, Military, or Mythological. I’m assuming Aubusson, later, Because of the color too. Beautiful. Dimensions Pending, We will update upon receiving information.
Mallet Antiques. At the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.
Summer. Also recently at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show. Easier to fit on the wall this one is (10’h x 11’8″ wide).
Rooms and walls are much smaller now days.
Another point of view. Though the point or perspective above, was on bringing in Antiques, into modern Interior Design, while part of the justification I made, hence was based on that the “Classic Tapestries” shown were and are an Art Form.
Calder, Leger, after Leger (below), Magritte, Picasso, Sonia Delaunay, Vasarely as well as many other artists used the woven media for the wall. To be hung as Art.
After Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955) – Keno Auctions
Saul Boris, in Mexico City. This small tapestry hung at my parents home until very recently.
From “Una Vida Moderna” http://unavidamoderna.tumblr.com/post/51423736051/tapiz-de-lana-tejida-de-un-tigre-por-saul-borisov
Saul Boris. Wool tapestry woven of a tiger by Saul Borzoi† form the 1960’s. San Angel Mexico City.
Lastly, we include a piece by world renown and living artist El Anatsui, from Volta, West Africa. His work now in many Contemporary Art museums, including the de Young, in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Park (below).
Though not from traditional wool and silk weaves, it is in my opinion an interesting comparison of Art and times.
El Anatsui. A different type of weave for a different time “, It seems to me like a Tapestry.
“Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up”.– El Anatsui, 2003
Polish Artist and Tapestry maker Beata Rosiak doing her thing. I don’t know of many young artists in the media, but I certainly think they should be encouraged.
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