Gobelin is a type of tapestry , made in France . Among the gobelins, the series of The Story of Constantine , The Muses , The Story of Alexander , The Life of Moses and Don Quixote are famous .


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  • 1 Origin of the name
  • 2 History
    • 1 Characteristics of the tapestries
  • 3 Sources

Name’s origin

It owes its name to Jean Gobelins , a French dyer who in the mid- fifteenth century gained recognition in textile art because he always achieved a scarlet color in his finishes; his workshop was located in Paris by the River Bièvre . The reputation of his family and his work came to surpass that of other workers with the same trade as in the mid- sixteenth century , both the river and the area where the workshop was located also took their name.


In 1662 Jean-Baptiste Colbert acquired the Hotel des Gobelins (about 3.5 hectares) on behalf of Louis XIV to group all the royal workshops into one, thus founding the Manufacture royale des tapisseries et des meubles de la Couronne which was soon Known as Manufacture Royale des Gobelins , in which the designs, in the tapestries and in all types of furniture, were executed under the supervision of the royal painter, Charles Le Brun , who was director and chief designer from 1663 to 1690 .

It was closed from 1694 to 1697 due to financial problems of the king. It worked until the French Revolution , when work at the factory was suspended until the Bourbons reopened the factory during the Bourbon Restoration .

In 1825 the looms were sent to Beauvais by order of Charles X and the Manufacture de la Savonnerie (carpet workshop) was installed on the Paris site , thereby adding the manufacture of carpets to that of the upholstery.

Today the factory works as a state institution. In 1937 the Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins joined the Mobilier national public body , and since then tapestries have been woven to decorate public buildings. In 2007 the Gallery of the Gobelins opened in the Formigé building, after years closed for renovation.

Tapestry characteristics

In the seventeenth century the tapestries were the work of the various existing studios in Paris , difficult to distinguish since they often use the same cardboard for tapestries, and the signatures (such as the “P” for Paris and the fleur-de-lis). Most of the series of tapestries repeated the Italian mannerist cartons characterized by very long and thin figures and faces, groups of figures in a stepped perspective according to their importance and bright colors and luminous backgrounds.

The 18th century was influenced by the Baroque , Rococo and Neoclassicism . A relevant detail is the fact associated with the change of decoration in the first decades of the 18th century , where the fashion of the mirror displaced paintings and tapestries. Only these remained as a mere accessory in some of the panels, but the great thematic series disappeared completely.

Napoleon’s reign brought new life to the factory. He worked for the Emperor because he wanted his productions to be “the main decoration of the Imperial House”. Between eighty and ninety workers operated in the workshops, while the tapestry glorified the figure of Napoleon.

In the Second Empire (1852–1870) the fashion for portraits continued, however, during the Third Republic (1870–1940) the tapestries were made for specific destinations: for the Opera, for the room of the Muses of the Elysée, for the National Library, etc.

Currently, all kinds of tapestries are made for public buildings, both copies of old cardboard and new designs by different artists, demonstrating the multiple possibilities of a mode of expression open to all contemporary trends and aesthetics.


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