TAPESTRY. The Gr.
and Lat. tapesium, from which
our word “tapestry” is descended, implied a covering to
both furniture and floors, as well as curtains or wall hangings,
and neither of them really defines the particular way in which
such articles were made. The decorations on these Greek and
Roman coverings were effected by painting, printing, embroidery,
or a method of weaving with coloured threads; and specimens
and other conclusive evidence show that early Egyptians,
Babylonians, Chinese, Indians, Greeks and Romans employed
some at least of the means above-named.
Fig. 1. —
Gobelins high-warp tapestry frame, with weaver (18th
century), holding in right hand (a) bobbin with weft thread wound
round its thick end, and with his left hand taking (e) some of the
lisses of strings with a loop at one end of each of them, through
which a warp thread is passed, and thus pulling forward those
warp threads in between which he will pass his weft, mm is
the tapestry he has woven, which has been wound round (p) the
cylinder. The other letters in this diagram relate to details in
the frame which are of subsidiary interest. The description of
them would not further elucidate the act of weaving which is here
The purpose of this article is to give some account
of those decorated stuffs which are produced by
weaving coloured threads on to warp threads in a
manner that differs from shuttle-weaving, and at
the present day is called tapestry-weaving, such for instance
as is practised at the famous Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry
manufactories in France. At the Gobelins, the warp threads
are stretched in frames standing vertically (high warp or haute
lisse): at Beauvais in frames placed horizontally with the ground
(low warp or basse lisse). In the one case the worker sits up to
his work, in the other he bends over it. In each he is supplied
with the design according to which he weaves, and notwithstanding
the varied positions the method of weaving is the
same. The thread-supply of each separate colour required
in the design is wound upon its appointed peg
or bobbin, which is a simpler implement or tool than a loom
weaver's shuttle. Fig. 1 shows a Gobelins high-warp tapestry
weaver of the 18th century at work. With his left hand he is
pulling above his head a few of the looped strings (lices or lisses)
through which the warp threads (chaine) pass, so as to bring
forward the particular warp threads, in between and around
which he has to place the weft threads of the selected colour.
In fig. 2 the workman's left hand pulls forward groups of warp
threads upon the lower part of which the weaving has been
finished; and with a comb-like implement in his right hand he
presses down and compacts the weaving. In the story of the
competition between Minerva and Arachne (Metamorphoses,
vi. 55-69), Ovid appears to be describing this very process, and
a great number of specimens of 2nd to 5th century Egypto-Roman
workmanship corroborate the presumption of its
existence in Ovid's time. The absence of evidence to show that
loom and shuttle weaving was capable at that period of producing
elaborate figured fabrics is remarkable, and supports
the probability that the tapestry-weaving process was that
commonly known and practised for most if not all woven decoration
and ornament. It was certainly as freely used for costumes
as for hangings, couch and cushion covers and the like (see
Carpet). The frames in which the work was done varied according
to size from small and easily handled ones to large and
substantially constructed frames. As mentioned in the article
Embroidery, ornament of tapestry-weaving occurs in a fragment
of Egyptian work 1450 B.C., and Greeks in the 3rd or 4th
century B.C. also worked in this method, as is demonstrated by
specimens, now in the Hermitage at St Petersburg, which were
found in the tomb of the Seven Brothers at Temriouck, formerly
a Greek settlement in the province of Kouban on the northeastern
shore of the Black Sea.
The simplicity of the process
is so obvious that it is found to be widely employed in expressing
a variety of primitive textile decoration of which pieces from
Borneo, Central Asia, Tibet, the Red Indians of America, and
the ancient inhabitants of Peru
(see fig. 10) are to be seen in
Fig. 2. —
Gobelins tapestry-weaving, showing (a) the left hand
of the weaver pulling forward (c) a group of warp threads, into
which with (b) the comb in his right hand he is compressing at
point (d) the weft threads which have been passed around and in
between the warp threads; (e) are various bobbins, hanging at
rest, suspended by their weft threads; and (f) is the tapestry as
woven and compressed.
As regards the antiquity of the two sorts of frames (the low
and high warp) the Beni Hassan wall paintings (1600 B.C.) include
diagrams of horizontal (low warp)frames, with weavers squatting
on the ground at work on them; while a vertical or high warp
frame is represented on a Greek vase of the 5th century B.C.
found at Chiusi (fig. 3), and corresponds with frames used in
In both these last-named the lower
ends of the warp threads are merely weighted, thus presenting
some difficulty to the act of weaving, and of subsequently compacting
the weft upwards, the warp not being taut and fastened
to a beam, according to more ordinary usage, as, for instance,
in the high warp frame illustrated in the codex of Rabanus
Maurus, 9th century A.D., preserved at Monte Cassino (fig. 4).
The words “de Geneceo” in this illustration point to a medieval
survival of the earlier gunaikonites of the Greeks and the
gynaecea of the Romans, which were the quarters set apart in
the house of the well-to-do for the spinning, weaving and
embroidery done by women for the household. From such
ancient frames to similar haute and basse lisse frames of the
French tapissiers nostrez and tapissiers sarrasinois governed
under edicts (1226-70) of Louis IX., and so on to present-day
Gobelins and Beauvais frames, the transition can be easily
realized. The texture of all tapestry weavings presents no
radical difference in appearance, no matter when or where
Fig. 3. —
Penelope's tapestry-weaving frame, from a Greek vase
of the 5th century B.C.
The standing figure is that of Telemachus.
Within reasonable limits it is not practicable to sketch in a
complete form the history, from the middle ages onwards, of the
prosecution of the art by each of the many European towns that
have become engaged in tapestry weaving. But the foregoing
remarks will suggest, what seems to have been the fact, that a
continuity in the knowledge of the art was kept up so that as
favourable conditions occurred it would be called
into practice. Artificers (male and female) such as
the Roman plumarii wove tapestries with figures of
Britons (Virgil, Georg., iii. 25) — “Purpurea intexti tollant
aulaea Britanni,” — others with scenes from the story
of Theseus and Ariadne (Catullus, Argon., xlvi. 267), besides many
more for emperors and the wealthy. The demand for such production
of the textrinae or trade workshops, and of the more private
gynaecea, as well as the organization of workmen's societies, collegia
opificum, are evidence of circumstances lasting for some centuries
in Rome that were favourable to tapestry-weaving there. Suggestive
of Roman designs are the illustrations of part of a curtain
or wall hanging (fig. 5), and of a hanging or couch cover (fig. 6) ;
whilst the daintiest quality of tapestry-weaving for the ornamentation
of a tunic is displayed in fig. 7. The ornamentation in fig. 5
— a hanging 5 ft. 3 in. by 19¾ in. —
consists of a series of horizontal
leafy bands or garlands and other devices: between the upper
bands on a red ground is a bird on a leafy twig. This is Egypto-Roman
work of about the 3rd century A.D. A portion of a linen
cloth or couch cover ornamented with tapestry woven in coloured
wools and linen thread is shown in fig. 6. At the top there is a
fragment of a horizontal border of floral and leaf ornament beneath
which, and enclosed by festoons of leaves, are two boys
floating in the air and holding ducks; elsewhere are figures of boys
running and carrying baskets of fruit, and large and small blossom
forms or rosettes. This also is Egypto-Roman work, about the
4th century, and is 4 ft. 5 in. by 4 ft. 1 in. Fig. 7 presents a square
(from a small tunic) of very fine warp and weft tapestry-weaving,
with a child mounted on a white horse: in the border about him
are ducks, fish and (?) peaches. This too is Egypto-Roman work
of about the 2nd or 3rd century and is about 4 inches square. The
square in fig. 8 is from a tunic or robe and is of tapestry-weaving
in bright-coloured wools, with a representation of Hermes holding
the caduceus in one hand and a purse in the other. About his
head is a nimbus and his name in Greek characters. This again is
Egypto-Roman work of about the 1st or 2nd century and is 6½
inches square. The panel of tapestry-weaving in fig. 9 is from a
couch or bed covering, and is wrought in purple wools and linen
threads. The design recalls the description of the toratia or
couch-covering alluded to in Petronius Arbiter's account of Trimalchio's
banquet, “on which were depicted men in ambush with hunting
poles and all the apparatus of the chase.” This piece is also of
Egypto-Roman work about the 2nd or 3rd century, about 12 in.
by 10 in.
Fig. 4. —
High warp frame from MS. Codex by Rabanus Maurus
The well-known 6th-century Ravenna mosaics of the Emperor
Justinian and the Empress Theodora are rich with hangings and
costumes decorated presumably with tapestry weavings similar
to those just described. From the 5th century and
for many centuries later, monasteries,
the like, under ecclesiastical control or influence,
became centres of activity in this and cognate arts,
stimulated by the patronage of the Church and
courts; and in the 8th and 9th centuries the Emperor
Charlemagne's body of travelling inspectors,
missi dominici, appears to have exercised for a time
a helpful influence upon such centres throughout France
and in parts of Germany. Two centuries later, free, as distinct
from bond, handicraftsmen were forming local associations for
their industries, and in this movement the weavers took the lead
throughout England, Flanders and Brabant, France being a little
The gilds of weavers in London and Oxford
were granted charters by Henry I. In the 11th century
gilds of wool weavers existed at Cologne and Mainz,
and in the following century there was a similar
gild at Spires: it is quite probable that some of their
weaving would be of tapestry.
The fragment in fig. 11 is considered
by authorities to be of 12th-century north European work,
possibly from some Rhenish place. At one time the whole piece
belonged to the church of St. Gereon at Cologne; a large bit of it
is now in the museum at Lyons; another at Nuremberg; whilst
a small part of the border only is in the Victoria and Albert Museum,
South Kensington. The pattern consists of repeated roundels
within each of which is a chimerical bird and bull (? St. Luke),
elsewhere is a small eagle (? St. John). The style of design, strong
in oriental and Byzantine character, is frequently found in shuttle-woven
silks of the period.
8th to 9th
Figs. 5-9. —
Specimens of Egypto-Roman tapestry weaving of about the
2nd to 5th century A.D. Victoria and Albert Museum.
Fig. 10. —
Fragment of coarse linen material with a large
diamond panel of tapestry weaving in coloured
threads Peruvian-made, before the conquest of
Peru by Pizarro. About 3 ft. by 2 ft. 6 in.
Fig. 11. —
Portion of wall-hanging from the church of St Gereon, Cologne.
North French or German manufacture of the 11th or 12th century.
About 2 ft. by 2 ft. 6 in.
Fig. 12. —
An antependium, or altar hanging of tapestry woven in coloured wools,
with the Adoration of the Magi, probably from a design
by Wohlgemuth (1434-1519). The tapestry is reputed to have been executed
in a convent at Bamberg; below the folds of the
Virgin's cloak, to the right, the “tapissière” has woven
a figure of herself at work. German, 15th century. This interesting piece
is in the museum at Munich. About 5 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft.
Fig. 13. —
One of a series of designs (the Trojan War) by Jean Foucquet (1415-1485)
from which tapestry
hangings were woven, probably at Arras in the middle of the 15th century.
Fig. 14. —
Part of the tapestry (13 ft. high) woven from the
design in Fig. 13. Arrival of Queen Penthesilea at the
court of King Priam.
Fig. 15. —
Part of the tapestry (10 ft. high) woven from the design
in Fig. 13. Queen Penthesilea overcoming Diomedes.
Fig. 16. —
Long and narrow tapestry (8 ft. 10 in. by 22 in.),
German work of the 15th century. Field labours, &c.
Fig. 17. —
Part of a wall hanging of tapestiy woven (probably at
Brussels early in the 16th century) with coloured wools
which is one of a series designed, probably by some member
of the school of Roger van der Weyden, to illustrate the
written by Petrarch. The episode represented is the
Triumph of Chastity over Love. Falling from a triumphal
car fitted with
flaming altars or torches of love, and drawn by four
winged white horses, is Cupid, whose left arm is grasped
by Chastity mounted
on a unicorn and carrying the column symbolizing Strength
or Constancy. Foremost in the multitude about the car
of Love are
Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. In another part of this
hanging is the date 1507. The height of this piece is
14 ft. This, with tapestries
of the Triumph of Death and Fame, is in the Victoria and
Albert Museum: one hanging of the Triumph of Time is at
The renaissance of literature in the 12th century, infused with
romantic, mystical and religious tendencies, supplied subjects for
wall decoration by fresco painting, the practice of
which was revived then and came into vogue in Italy
and the south, whilst its analogue in the northern and
more weather-wearing countries is to be found chiefly
in decorative tapestry weavings. Much tapestry is
certainly indebted for its cartoons to wall painting, but
illustrations in MSS. also furnished subjects from which
tapestry was made by the tapissiers nostrez and tapissiers de la haute
lisse in France, Germany and Flanders.
The earlier tapestries
usually seem to have been narrow and long, e.g. the “toile à broderie”
of Bayeux (see Embroidery) and the 12th-century tapestries of
Halberstadt cathedral. Although the making such narrow, long
tapestries survived into the 14th and 15th centuries (see fig. 16),
larger shapes (see figs. 14 and 15) suitable as curtains and as hangings
to cover large wall-spaces became the more frequent. From
this time forward the output from many European towns of big
pieces, mostly woven with coloured wools, was continuous and
considerable. The more sumptuous examples from the 14th to
the 17th century were enriched with gleaming silks and metallic
The subjects of the cartoons from which tapestries were woven
varied of course with the tastes of the times, the more frequent of
the earlier ones being religious (see fig. 12) or illustrative
of moralities. Types of romantic, legendary
subjects are displayed in figs. 14 and 15 of the Siege
of Troy, and fig. 23 of Dido and Aeneas. Historical
design occurs in fig. 20, which is one of a set of
tapestries woven possibly at the royal factory of Fontainebleau
about 1540, to commemorate the fêtes on the occasion of the
marriage of Henri II. with Catherine de Medicis; and again in
fig. 25, of the “Glorious Defence of Londonderry.” Pastoral
incidents are shown in fig. 16, and social life episodes and incidents
in fig. 22, which was woven at the celebrated Medici factory,
Florence, in 1639 by a French weaver — Pierre Fevre — from a
design in the style of F. d'Albertino (il Bacchiaca), 16th century,
entitled “L'inverno” (winter). Less human in interest are
tapestries, mostly of the late 15th century, wrought from leafy
designs, usually termed “verdures,” of which several were made at
Brussels during the 16th century. Heraldic and floral devices
were also frequently used, see fig. 19, from a piece of the late
15th century in Winchester College, and fig. 18, which is at Haddon
Hall and was woven early in the 16th century. It is very similar
to hangings which are at Bern and are said to have been captured
from Charles the Bold at the battle of Granson. Many curiously
designed tapestries of German 15th-century origin are to be seen
in the museum at Basel — one of them (fig. 21) displays strange
beasts, unicorns, stags in the midst of Gothic foliage, and labels
with legends. Other tapestries, worked from still later phases of
ornamental design, are fantastic with schemes of abstract ornament
into which are introduced as subsidiary details figure subjects
set in panels and medallions.
The treatment of the compositions in cartoons for tapestry
follows that adopted by painters. Thus examples from the 11th
to the end of the 15th century are formal in the drawing of the forms
introduced into them, and comparatively limited in range of colours,
lights and shades, in accordance with the mannerisms of the earlier
painters whether illuminators of MSS. or wall and panel painters.
It has been argued from this that the designers of such early
tapestry work possessed a sense of the limitations imposed by the
process and materials. But in their day the relatively small
number of dyes available involved conventionality in colour,
quite as much as the earlier styles of drawing involved conventionality
Fig. 13 is from an interesting design by Jehan Foucquet
(1415-1485): and is one of a set, made by him to illustrate the
Trojan War, now in the Louvre. From these drawings tapestries
were woven at Arras probably in the middle of the 15th century.
One of these hangings in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see
figs. 14 and 15) is from Foucquet's design, representing the arrival
of Queen Penthesilea and her warrior women at Troy and the part
she took in a fight in which she vanquished Diomedes. This
episode was introduced by Quintus Calaber (or Smyrnaeus), a
4th-century writer, in his version of the Homeric story. A tapestry
from another of Foucquet's designs displaying King Priam in the
midst of his court is in the Palais de Justice at Issoire.
When Raphael, master of a freer and more realistic style in
rendering form and colour, produced his cartoons of the Acts of the
Apostles for a set of hangings for Pope Leo X., a new condition
naturally came into play, and practically became
a principal source of the contrast which is observable
between the designs of tapestries made before his time and
those made after the early part of the 16th century.
The provision of a bigger scale of dyes for the wools and
silks was stimulated to secure success in weaving these
more realistic representations of forms and greater subtleties in
colour, as well as the developed effects of perspective: compare, for
instance, the treatment in fig. 14 with that in fig. 22. The restraint
or limitations of the earlier styles were thus gradually
supplanted by the comparative complexities of the later; and it
is a point of interest to note that provision for still further inventing
and improving dyes and so helping tapestry to assimilate to painting
is specially included in the regulations (1667) of the state
manufactory of the Gobelins, where under M. Chevreul (director
of the dye-works for more than fifty years during the 19th century)
14,400 tones of colour have been used.
of realism in
A chronological succession of styles may also be traced in the
borders enclosing such varieties of design as those just referred
to. As a rule borders consisting of a selvage or plain
band come first (see fig. 12), followed by those in which
labels with block-letter legends (figs. 14 and 15 and
fig. 17) are features; after them are narrow borders
filled in with closely and well-arranged floral forms (see
lower border in fig. 17), to which succeed borders of greater
width containing elaborate detail (fig. 20). Such as these date
from soon after the beginning of the 16th century, and those rather
wider and more extravagant in ornament follow on somewhat
later (see figs. 22 and 23). In the 18th century massive rococo
proscenium Frames, as in fig. 25, are sometimes adopted.
Of the notable centres where the industry of tapestry-weaving
has been in considerable practice, Arras in the 14th and 15th centuries,
Brussels in the 15th and 16th, Middelburg and Delft in
the late 16th and early 17th centuries,
Paris in the 16th
and 17th centuries and down to the present time, with
Mortlake in the 17th century, probably stand foremost;
and from them the services of experienced workmen
equipped with frames and implements were requisitioned
and secured at most of the short-lived contemporaneous centres
in almost all parts of Europe. Several names of tapestry-weavers
working during the first half of the 14th century in Arras, Paris.
Valenciennes, St. Omer and Reims, for Burgundian, Flemish and
French nobles, have been recorded.
Throughout that century a
few weavers and many tapestries came from Arras into England,
where the term “arras” became the generic name for woven
wall-hangings. Arras tapestries also went in quantities into Italy
where they were called “Arazzi,” and into Spain where they bore
the name “pannos de raz.” The tapicers of London received their
statutes in 1331, and Edward III. caused an inquiry to be held
into the mistera tapiciarorum.
The industry at Arras began to
decline soon after 1460, and was succeeded about this date by works
at Bruges, Ghent, Tournai, Lille, Oudenarde, but more especially
at Brussels, at which last city the industry grew to an importance
even greater than it had enjoyed previously at Arras or elsewhere.
The regulations of the Brussels corporation of tapissiers were
framed in 1451. Under them tapissiers might draw for one another
the stuffs of hangings or of costumes in their figure compositions,
trees, animals, boats, grasses, &c., in their “verdures,” or leafy
compositions, and the flowers, &c., as in the ground of Fig. 18,
and might complete or correct their cartoons with charcoal or
chalk, but for every other style of work they were bound to apply
to professional painters under pain of fine.
In 1528 the Brussels tapissiers and dealers in tapestries were
required to mark their weavings, and Charles V. ordered all tapestry
makers in the Low Countries to do the same.
practice was followed in other countries into which
emigrant Flemish or French weavers had carried the
industry, making their tapestries very often from
copies they took with them of cartoons designed by
noted Italian and Flemish painters. Makers' marks have in so
many cases been cut from tapestries that it becomes practically
impossible to identify the places where they were made, and the
dates of their production can only be conjectured from the styles
of designs, supplied for instance by such artists (or their
followers) as the Van Eycks, Roger van der Weyden,
Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Bernard van
Orley, Lancelot Blondeel and John van der Straaten or
Stradanus; this last-named was for many years employed
in connexion with the important “Arrazeria
Medici” founded in Florence by Cosmo I., duke of Tuscany
(1537), which lasted until the beginning of the 18th century; Stradanus's
style of design is similar to that of episodes in the story of Dido
and Aeneas shown in fig. 23 from an Oudenarde tapestry of the
early 17th century. Reverting to the 16th century, reference
must be made to Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII., who possessed
enormous quantities of the best Flemish tapestries of their time and
earlier, and a fair number of them are still preserved at Hampton
The king had in his service not only agents especially
in Brussels to buy hangings, but also a considerable staff of
“Arras-makers.” In Ireland, the taste for tapestry was evidenced by a
manufactory at Kilkenny of “tapestry, Turkey carpets and
diapers,” founded early in the 16th century at the instance of Piers,
8th earl of Ormond and his ladv, Margaret FitzGerald, and giving
employment to workmen introduced by him from
a rather later date tapestry works were established by William
Sheldon at Weston and Barcheston in Warwickshire, with a view
to which he previously sent Richard Hickes to the Low Countries
to learn tapestry-weaving. A few Flemings were probably brought
over by him and set to work at Barcheston and Weston, where he
was appointed “master weaver.” In his will (1569) Sheldon calls
Hickes, somewhat erroneously perhaps, “the only auter and beginner
of tapestry and Arras within this realm.” His son, Francis
Hickes, was educated at St Mary Hall, Oxford (1579-83), and
about 1640 he caused some tapestry maps to be
before them are a set of hangings of the “Four Seasons,” now
preserved at Hatfield. These are most probably from designs by
Francis Hickes. They were bought by the marquis of Salisbury
very shortly before the first visit of Queen Victoria to Hatfield.
The borders of these pieces with small medallions and Latin mottoes
are attractively amusing and interesting. In the lower border
(fig. 24) one may read “VIA. VIRTUTI. ENCYCLOPEDIA”;
upper border a date, “1611,” occurs in one medallion. In the
upper border of each hanging is an important coat of arms with
several quarterings, chief of which are those of Tracey of Toddington
in Gloucestershire impaling those of Shirley of Wiston in Sussex.
The designer's inventiveness and fancy in illustrating attributes, &c.,
of the “Seasons” are almost exuberant, however restricted and
quaint his graphic power seems to be.
Philip II. is mentioned as having encouraged a manufacture of
tapestry by Flemings in Madrid in 1582. In 1539, Francis I.
started a royal factory for tapestry at Fontainebleau (see fig. 20),
and employed Primaticcio amongst other artists to furnish the
necessary designs. Henry II., whilst continuing work at Fontainebleau,
caused a second factory to be set going in Paris at the Hôpital
de la Trinité. Henry IV. continued this royal patronage in lavish
fashion and added yet another factory, that in the Faubourg St.
Antoine, which in 1603 was transferred to workrooms in the Louvre.
As Paris thus came to the fore, so Brussels gradually declined.
Upon the death of Henry IV. in 1610 Paris tapestry-making
suffered a check, which may perhaps have contributed somewhat
favourably to the start made by James I. to organize the Mortlake
works, where several foreign workmen were employed under the
direction of Sir Francis Crane.
Both James I. and Charles I.
supplied considerable sums of money for the Mortlake works, and
tapestries were made there, as fine as any contemporaneously
at Paris or Brussels, e.g. those from Raphael's cartoons of “the
Acts of the Apostles,”
Rubens's “Story of Achilles,” and
portraits by Van Dyck. After the execution of Charles I., Mortlake
declined, and new life was infused into the industry at Paris under
the influence of Colbert, to whose strong personal interest in the
arts is due the organization in 1667 of the Hôtel des Gobelins under
the painter Charles le Brun as the Manufacture Royale des Meubles
de la Couronne, which for large hangings became the premier
tapestry-weaving centre in Europe. Three years previously Colbert
had initiated a similar manufactory, chiefly with low-warp frames,
at Beauvais, which is noted for sofa and chair seats and backs,
screens and small panels.
Efforts to establish the industry in Rome were made during the
17th century, but it is only since the pontificate of Clement XI.
in 1702 that a papal factory has been successfully conducted and
is still carried on in the Vatican. The manufactory of Santa
Barbara in Madrid was founded by Philip V. in 1720, and
although it was closed in 1808 it re-opened in 1815 and is still
Tapestry-weaving during the 18th century under private enterprise
was pursued with success and still continues at Aubusson,
Felletin; it was carried on for a short time only at
Fulham, Soho, Exeter, and for rather longer periods at
Lille, Cambrai, Gisors, Nancy, Naples, Turin, Venice,
Seville, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Heidelberg and St
Petersburg, maintaining, however, no very prolonged
existence at any of these latter places. In more modern
times English tapestries woven after 1878 at the Merton
works from designs by William Morris (see fig. 26), as well as by Sir
and Mr Walter Crane, have great distinction
in vigorous style reminiscent of virile medieval work.
In mere technique of weaving with fine warp and weft they are
outdone by the comparatively effeminate and delicate painting-like
fabrics now made at the Gobelins and Aubusson.
Towards the end of the 17th century as well as early in the 18th
century some tapestry-weaving was carried on in Ireland. For
about twenty years at Chapelizod, near Dublin, tapestry frames
were worked by Christopher and John Lovett, the latter of whom
had to leave Dublin, bringing with him into England some thirty-eight
pieces of tapestry of “Their Majesties' Manufacture of
Ireland.” In the Bank of Ireland, in College Green, Dublin, are
two large hangings which were executed by Robert Baillie, who
is said to have held the appointment of upholsterer to the Irish
government in 1716.
One of them represents the Battle of the
Boyne, the other the “Glorious Defence of Londonderry” (see
fig. 25). Lough Foyle and the hill surmounted by the city of
Londonderry are represented in the landscape: to the left in the
foreground is James II., by whom is the Commander Hamilton
with his hat off, and near at hand cavalry: on the right are mortars,
cannon and foot soldiers. The border of this tapestry is fantastic
in design and rather in the style of an over-elaborated theatre
proscenium, upon which hang medallions containing portraits
of Captain Baker, the Rev. Dr Walker and the captain of the
frigate “Dartmouth,” in which the supplies were brought to the besieged
which led to the relief of the city and the defeat of the investing
army. The designs for these Dublin tapestries are credited
to John Vanbeaver, a Flemish weaver, who seems to have been a
moderate draughtsman. They are clearly adaptations of designs
of historical events, by Le Brun and van der Meulen, from which
tapestries were woven at the Gobelins factory to the order of
Louis XIV. at the end of the 17th century. These Dublin
hangings were woven about 1735, and Baillie was commissioned
to make four others representing the landing of the prince of
Orange, his army at Carrickfergus, the Battle of Aughrim,
and the taking of Cork and Kinsale by
however, were not completed, and Baillie was paid £200 as
Tapestry-weaving as a possible cottage or home industry is
practised in a few places in Ireland and England. In the Far East,
China and Japan, the art, adopted presumably from western Asia,
is sometimes resorted to in making silken robes and intricately
figured hangings. The Japanese call their tapestry-weaving
Fig. 18. —
Brussels, early 16th century, hanging, covered
with masses of flowers, on which are
shields bearing the royal arms.
Now at Haddon Hall.
The property of the duke of Rutland.
Fig. 19. —
Brussels tapestry (about 6 ft. high), late 15th century,
with a shield bearing three crowns, red and white roses,
and the monogram I.H.S. repeated three times. From
Fig. 21. —
German tapestry hanging (about 4 ft. 6 in. long by
3 ft. high) for a sideboard or buffet, middle of the 15th
century. In the museum at Basel.
Fig. 20. —
Tapestry hanging (about 10 ft
high) possibly of
Fontainebleau manufacture about 1540.
Fêtes in honour of
Henri II. and Catherine de Medicis.
Fig. 22. —
Tapestry hanging (about 10 ft. high) made at the Medici
factory in Florence, 1639. Domestic scene, l'Inverno, winter.
Fig. 23. —
Oudenarde tapestry, early 17th century. The design,
“Dido and Eneas,” rather in the
style of J. van Straeten.
Fig. 24. —
One of the four tapestry hangings of the “Seasons,” of Winter
with Aeolus in the centre, probably woven under the
direction of Francis Hickes at William Sheldon's manufactory at Barcheston,
in Warwickshire, early in the 17th century, and
now at Hatfield House.
Fig. 25. —
Defence of Londonderry. Irish (Dublin) tapestry, early 18th century.
Fig. 26. —
Tapestry woven at Merton Abbey, from a design by William Morris (1834-1896).
The subject is from his poem
“The Orchard.” Victoria and Albert Museum.
Fine examples of early and later European tapestries are to be
seen in the cathedrals of Reims, Bruges, Tournai, Angers, Beauvais,
Aix, Sens, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London,
Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, St Mary's Hall Coventry,
the Louvre and Cluny Museums in Paris, at Chantilly,
Chartres, Amiens, Dijon, Orleans, Auxerre, Nancy, Bern,
Brussels, Basel, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Vienna and
Nuremberg. In Italy the largest collections (mostly of
16th and 17th century work) are those of the Vatican
at Rome, and the Reale Galleria degli Arazzi at Florence. Many fine
pieces are in the royal palace at Turin, the Palazzo del Té at Mantua,
the royal palace at Milan, in the cathedral of Como, and the museum
at Naples. The collection at the palace of Madrid is one of the
largest in Europe, and comprises more than one thousand examples,
the older of which, of splendid Flemish design and weaving, belonged
to Ferdinand and Isabella, Philippe le Bel and the Emperor
The principal cathedrals of Spain also possess important
tapestries; those preserved at the cathedral of Toledo
are more than enough to supply hangings for the outside and inside
of that building on the feast of Corpus Christi. Throughout the
European continent, in the United States of America, and in Great
Britain almost uncountable tapestries are displayed or stored in
mansions, castles, châteaux and palazzi, belonging to noble and
wealthy families. A large number of books have been written
and published on the subject generally, and many of them, containing
good illustrations, are of recent date.
are now preserved.
The following works may be mentioned as
likely to prove useful for investigating the history and character
of Egypto-Roman and Coptic textiles: — J. Karabacek, Die Theodor
Graf'schen Fünde in Aegypten (“Die Textilien-Gräberfünde”), 8vo,
Vienna, 1883; Alan S. Cole, Catalogue of a Collection of Tapestry
Woven and Embroidered Egyptian Textiles in the South Kensington
Museum, London, 1887; “Egyptian Tapestry,” Society of Arts,
Cantor Lectures, London, 1889; A. Riegl, Die ägyptischen Textilfünde
im K. K. Osterreich. Museum, 13 photo-lithographs, 4to,
Vienna, 1889; E. Gerspach, Les tapisseries copies, 153 (some
coloured) illustrations, 4to, Paris, 1890; R. Forrer, Mein Besuch
in El-Achmim, 1 phototype and 36 process illustrations, 8vo,
Strassburg, 1895; Romische und Byzantinische Seiden-Textilien aus
dem Gräberfelde von Achmim-Panopolis, 28 pp., 17 (15 coloured)
plates, and illustrations in the text, 4to, Strassburg, 1891;
Wladimar Bock, Coptic Art; Coptic Figured Textiles (in Russian),
32 pp., 6 phototype plates, 4to, Moscow, 1897; W. Lowrie, Christian
Art and Archaeology (pp. 362-82, “Textile Art”), process illustrations,
8vo, New York and London, 1901; A. Gayet, L'art copte (pp.
317-27, “Les tissus”), process illustrations, 8vo. Paris, 1902.
In respect of medieval and later tapestries the titles of the
following works are quoted: — Jubinal, Anciennes tapisseries, Paris,
1838-39; Ronchaud, La tapisserie dans l'antiquité; Le péplos
d'Anthéné, Paris, 1884; Müntz, La tapisserie, Paris, 1882; Boileau,
Les métiers et corporations de la ville de Paris au
xiiie siècle, Paris,
1879; Barbier de Montault, Tapisseries du sacre d'Angers, Paris,
1863; De Farcy on the same subject, 1875; Barraud, Tap. de la
cath. de Beauvais, Beauvais, 1853; Pinchart, Roger van der Weyden
. . . et les tapisseries de Berne, Brussels, 1864; Loriquet, Tap. de la
cathédrale de Reims, Reims, 1882; Guiffrey, Pinchart and Müntz,
Histoire générale de la tapisserie, 1878; Müntz, Les fabriques de
tapisseries de Nancy, 1883; Voisin, Tap. de la cath. de Tournay,
Tournai, 1863; Van Drival, Tap. d'Arras, Arras, 1864; Gorse,
Tap. du château de Pau, Paris, 1881; De la Fons-Melicoq, Hautlisseurs
des xivme au xvime
siècles, Paris, 1870; Notice sur les Tap.
de Beauvais, Clermont, 1842; Deville, Statuts, etc., relatifs à la corp.
des tap. de 1258 a 1275, Paris, 1875; Darcel, Les manufactures
nationales de tapisserie des Gobelins de Paris, 1885; van de Graft,
De Tapijt-Fabrieken der xvi. en xvii. Eeuw, Middelburg, 1869; De
Montault, Tap. de haute lisse à Rome, Arras, 1879; Conti, L'arte
degli arazzi in Firenze, Florence, 1875; Campori, L'arazzeria
Estense, Modena, 1876; Braghirolli, Arazzi in Mantova, Mantua,
1879; Farabulini, L'arte degli arazzi, Rome, 1884; Gentili, L'art
des tapis, Rome, 1878; Müntz, Tap. Italiennes, Paris, 1880;
Dorregaray, Museo Español de Antiguëdades (Flemish Tapestry,
vol. vii. p. 47), Madrid, 1871-76; Darcel and Guichard, Les tap.
decoratives, Paris, 1877; Lacordaire, Notice sur l'origins des tapisseries
des Gobelins, &c., Paris, 1855; Guillaumot, Manufacture . . .
des Gobelins, Paris, 1800; Rahlenbeck, Les Tapisseries des Rois de
Navarre (in Messager des Sciences Historiques, Gand, 1868); Perathon,
Tap. d'Aubusson, de Felletin, et de Bellegarde, Paris, 1857;
Roy-Pierrefitte, Les tap. de Felletin, Limoges, 1855; Durieux,
Tap. de Cambrai, Cambrai, 1879; About and Bauer, Tap. après les
cartons de Raphael, Paris, 1875; Houdoy, Tap. de la fabrication
Lilloise, Lille, 1871; Vergnaud-Romagnesi, Tap. au Musée
d' Orléans, Orleans, 1859; De St Genois, Tap. d'Oudenarde, Paris,
1864; Guiffrey, Hist, de la tapisserie, Tours, 1886; Pine, Tapestry
of the House of Lords, London, 1739; Vallance Aymer, The Art of
William Morris (see pp. 83-92); W. G. Thomson, A History of
Tapestry from the earliest times until the present day, London, 1906.
See Compte rendu. Com. Arch., 1878-79.
See Account of Graves at Ancon, Asher & Co.; see also specimens
from Graves at Lima in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
See modern Faroese frame figured by Worsaae. Afbildinger
fra det K. Museum for Nordiske Old Sager. Copenhagen, 1854,
See Recherches sur l'usage et l'origine des tapisseries à personnages,
by A. Jubinal, 1840, p. 13.
See L. Brentano's History and Development of Guilds, § IV.
“The Craft Guilds.”
Eugène Müntz quotes a deed (between 1164 and 1200) witnessed
by “Meginwart of Welt in burch,” a tapetiarius, as well as another
(1177) in which mention is made of Fredericus, tapifex de familia
Guiffrey's Nicolas Bataille contains particulars of the loan
by Charles V. of France to his brother Louis, duke of Anjou, of an
illuminated MS. from which Hennequin or Jean of Bruges, painter
in ordinary and valet de chambre to the king, made the cartoons
used by Nicolas Bataille (tapissier de Paris) in weaving two hangings
representing the Apocalypse (1377).
“Tapis de haute lice de fin fil d'arras ouvré à or de Chipre”
(A.D. 1395). One of the largest and most delicately wrought
tapestry hangings in which gold and silver threads are freely used
is that of the Adoration of the Eternal Father: on the left of this
is the story of the Emperor Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl: on
the right the story of Esther and Ahasuerus. It was bought by
Mr Pierpont Morgan.
Only one or two of the tapestries representing the several
engagements between the English and Spanish fleets in 1588 which
used to hang in the House of Lords (see Pine, Tapestry of the House
of Lords, London, 1739) were saved from the fire (1835), and are
now at Hampton Court. They closely correspond with a set commemorating
engagements between the Dutch and Spanish fleets
(1572 and 1576) which are in the great Assembly Hall of the
Provincial States of Zeeland. These latter were woven chiefly at the
tapestry works at Middelburg, 1595-1629; the former were woven
at Francis Spiring's works (or Spierincx) at Delft. Both, it appears,
were designed by H. Cornelius Vroom of Harlem. For interesting
details of the Middelburg works see van der Graft's De
Tapijt-Fabrieken (Middelburg, 1869), and supplementary documents by
De Waard (Oud-Holland, xv., 65, 1897).
See lists in W. G. Thomson's History of Tapestry.
Rot. Pat. 38 Ed. III., Hardy's Record Rymer, vol. 3, part 2,
Bulletin des commissions royales d'art et d'archéologie. Wauters,
Les tapissiers de haute et basse lisse à Bruxelles.
See list of tapestry marks, pp. 472-81 in Thomson's History
See Law's Hampton Court Palace, 1885.
See Transactions of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, 1852,
“Ancient Tapestry at Kilkenny Castle,” by the Rev. James Graves.
See “Tapestry Maps in the Museum at York” (paper read before
Royal Geographical Society by Rev. W. K. R. Bedford, printed
10th Dec. 1896, and included in vol. i. of the society's Transactions
for 1897), also in Bodleian Library.
A half-length portrait by Van Dyck of Sir Francis Crane
worked in tapestry, and one or two small fine-warp tapestry panels
of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, hang at Lord Petre's, Thorndon
Hall, Brentwood. Ancestors of the late Lady Petre were related
to the Crane family, as well as to the Markham family with which
Edward Sheldon by his marriage early in the 17th century became
connected. The Sheldon and Markham arms occur in the border
of one of the map tapestries in the Bodleian Library.
The original cartoons, the property of the Crown, are exhibited
in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
A very fine set of Merton tapestries made from Burne-Jones's
designs are in the Municipal Museum at Birmingham.
References to his employment in making tapestries occur in
the Journal of the Irish House of Lords.
See Gilbert's History of Dublin, vol. iii. p. 79.
See Report of Señor I. F. Riaño to the Director of the South
Kensington Museum, 1875.