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Tapestries history and production

A brief history of tapestries

In 1675 there are 800 outstanding artists and craftsmen in Gobelins’ circle. At Le Brun’s orders are lapidaries and carpenters, carvers, jewellers, upholsterers and painters from all backgrounds. Perfection of colours and design is at its peak, a sophistication never before achieved in tapestries’ weaving. Production times go even over 5 years for the complexity reached in weaving techniques and therefore prices rise considerably. Around the seventeenth century, in France and Italy appear the first tapestries painted onto silk fabric and linen. These painted tapestries are used in the furnishings of palaces and buildings, so as to appear officially in the crown’s collections. On the ” Crown Superintendent’s Register of the 11th August 1689, there are registered “four tapestries in moaire painted by master Bonnemer in Gobelins’manufacture illustrating The Crossing of the Rhine by the Prince of Conde”. The King’s ordinary painter and one of  Charles Le Brun’s collaborators, Bonnemer had learned the technique of painting on silk tapestries, tapisseries de peinture, during his stay in Rome.

tapestries detail

Antique tapestry particular

Gobelins’ tapestries

On the death of Louis XIV, in 1715, the inventory of the crown back well 2.155 Gobelins tapestries. The technique related to this production of painted tapestries, mentioned several times in the “Crown Superintendent’s Register”, seems wrapped in a mystery, the information is rare and jealously guarded. In the same Gobelins’ manufacture, a tapestry maker does not reveal to any other special “the special secret to painting tapestries onto fabric.” These are the origins of the production of tapestries Editions d’Art de Rambouillet. The French company de Rambouillet, referring to the techniques used in the seventeenth century, invented in 1960 an exclusive process for the reproduction of ancient tapestries painted on fabric. It took seven years of research to achieve the desired result.

Arazzo con Mirtillo e Amarilli

Tapestry with Blueberry and Amaryllis


Procedure for the creation of De Rambouillet’s tapestries

Once you have chosen the tapestry to be reproduced, it is reproduced full size onto cardboard. Then films  are hand-drawn, one for each colour present in the tapestry. The colours are chosen with the aid of samples of wool. To make films designed for a tapestry takes from six to nine months. When the drawn films are ready, they are arranged on a special frame and coated with gelatin, to proceed to the imprinting with 7000 watts lamps. This process fixes only the gelatin struck by the light, while the remainder is eliminated by washing. The colours are made from base pigments, are unchanged by the light and guaranteed in time. Before applying scrupulous controls and possible correction are carried out, but in undertones every tapestry will always be different because it is always a process of artistic craftsmanship, so you can say that they are unique pieces

telai per arazzi  

Arazzi De Rambouillet

Preparation of frames for the tapestries

Frames’ preparation for the manufacture of tapestries

The tapestry’s fabric is a mixture of linen, viscose and cotton; this is pasted on a table heated to 60 ° C. At this point, the color is spread on the silk-screening frames by means of a spatula, on average from 12 to 17 as there are colours to make our tapestry, to colour the fabric and perform the various steps, one for each film. This is the most delicate operation of the whole process because if a centring mistake happens the tapestry is compromised. When the colouring is finished the tapestry is aged to give it an antique tone.

Arazzo Histoire du Roi, le canal de Bruges

Histoire du Roi tapestry, le canal de Bruges

The tapestry’s lining

To complete the job the fabric on the back is applied by hand with the label on which is given the period in which the tapestry was made with the original name of the subject, the museum where it is stored, then the details on the our tapestry’s production method.

arazzi, la foderatura

Finishing operations, rafting

Tapestries's history and De Rambouillet Tapestries

arazzo antico

Beautiful antique tapestry Hotel Palladio in Venice that we recently restored