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How a practical solution for protecting against drafts turned into an expensive work of art: Tapestry

Tapestries, or rather tapestries, were created because they allowed you to protect yourself from cold and draughts. But this purely practical purpose does not explain the essence of the trellis, because most of these products were in the past real objects of art-objects extremely valuable and expensive. How did these wall carpets earn such a reputation?

What is commonly called a tapestry has a more accurate name-a tapestry. This is a lint-free handmade carpet, with a pattern on one-front-side, designed to decorate the wall. A trellis is created by cross-linking threads of different colors with a special device – a weft. The threads form both the pattern and the carpet fabric itself.

Prototypes of tapestries existed in the ancient world, and since the first Millennium of the new era, the development of this type of weaving began, the people of Egypt adopted the art of weaving carpets from the peoples of Mesopotamia, and then themselves achieved considerable success in this business. The heyday of tapestry craft was in the IV-VII centuries; the Egyptian Copts made such carpets, using a linen base and woolen threads to create patterns and ornaments. Apparently, tapestries were created in the ancient world.
The subjects for such woven “paintings” were ancient myths, images of flowers and fruits, and later – biblical legends. Their traditions of weaving tapestries were also in the East, in China from the third century BC, carpets were woven using silk threads, and then this art was adopted by the Japanese.

The reasons why the tapestry craft appeared at all are related to the aesthetic needs of people of past centuries, and with practical considerations – after all, the wicker carpet served as a good protection from the cold in the room. Therefore, different cultures came to the traditions of weaving tapestries, for example, in South America, this type of weaving was popular for centuries before the arrival of Europeans – this is evidenced by finds made in graves. When creating certain shades of the drawing, human hair was used. Women were engaged in carpet weaving, and looms were used for this work since the VI century.

The European tapestries and the tapestries

Europe adopted the tradition of tapestry production from Eastern tribes, it happened during the Crusades, which began in the XI century. Captured, and then made by Europeans, carpets were hung on the walls to protect the room from the piercing cold, and to give the halls an elegant, solemn appearance. In addition, tapestries were used as partitions, they decorated churches, they were used as decorations for festive Church processions. The first created in Europe is considered to be the trellis from the Church of St. Gereon in Cologne.
Of course, in the first centuries, these carpets showed mainly scenes from biblical stories. In the 14th century, the “Angers Apocalypse” was created, a series of tapestries that contained scenes from the “Revelations of John the theologian”. It was created for king Louis I. in General at that time, and for a long time then it is the kings but the Church, ordered tapestries for others to get this home decoration was a matter of absolutely not material from a financial point of view. For a long time, tapestries-tapestries were considered to belong to luxurious Royal residences, especially since the technique of weaving became more complicated with the development of the craft.
The criterion for the quality of the trellis was the density of the weave, which was constantly growing, from 5 threads of the base per 1 centimeter in the Middle ages to 16 threads in the XIX century. Tapestries with a high density allowed to achieve almost the same visual effect as a painting. At first, the masters used threads of six different colors, but gradually the number of shades increased, reaching almost nine hundred by the end of the XVIII century.
At first, the center of tapestry art was Flanders; the masters of French Arras began to use gold and silver threads in their work, and in the XVII century, the active development of other carpet weaving workshops began. In France, there were already manufactories, but on a small scale, the main suppliers of tapestries for the Royal court were the Flemings. King Henry IV by decree founded a factory in Paris, and it was located in a building belonging to the Gobelin family, where the wool Dyer Gilles Gobelin used to work. Since the issuance of the corresponding Royal patent to The tapestry manufactory – namely, from 1607 – the history of the tapestries – tapestries created at this enterprise begins.Advertising

To organize the work, the king summoned two Flemings to Paris – Marc de Comans and Francois de La planche, they were granted titles of nobility, and in addition – shops, equipment and substantial subsidies: Henry very much wanted the French to learn how to make the best tapestries in the world. The import of carpets from abroad was prohibited.

Tapestries as an art form that competed with painting

The business of the manufactory went up, the masters received orders from the Royal court, and they were executed not only by the weavers themselves, but also by artists who prepared sketches for the tapestries – cardboard. Often great masters of painting took up the work of the cartoner. In the second half of the XVII century, the most influential French artist Charles Lebrun headed the manufactory, and in addition to him, sketches for tapestries were created by Jacob yordans, Rubens, and Simon Vouet. Weaving techniques improved, new creative techniques appeared, and tapestries already seriously competed with painting, and in price – significantly outperformed the paintings of the most famous artists.
After the French, manufactories began to be created in other European countries, and at the beginning of the XVIII century, the art of creating tapestries began to be mastered in Russia. To do this, Peter I brought several masters of the Tapestry manufactory to the country and founded, in turn, the St. Petersburg tapestry manufactory in Yekaterinburg, which will remain the only major domestic enterprise for the production of tapestries. Foreigners made tapestries and at the same time trained apprentices. Paintings from the Imperial collections were often used as cartons.

In total, the St. Petersburg manufactory created 205 tapestries. in 1858, it was closed due to the fact that it suffered permanent losses. However, the crisis was experienced not only by Russian carpet weaving.
New life was given to tapestries by the artist Jean Lursa, a reformer of tapestry art, who developed in the first half of the last century new principles for creating woven lint-free carpets, based on medieval traditions and somewhat returning to the basics of the craft. He assumed that tapestries should not replace paintings, that this type of art is much closer to architecture, because tapestries “dress part of the building.” He returned the structure of weaving to medieval standards, products were made much faster and the cost of their production significantly decreased.

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