People used to hang huge textiles on their walls to protect them from the cold. But soon these huge pieces of cloth became more than just that. They became a medium of artistic expressions and the weaving process itself became a precise science in itself. As demand began to increase, centers of tapestry making began to emerge in various places, creating specialties and trademarks. Countries like England, Holland, Italy, and France were identified as places where unique and quality tapestries were produced. The high and the wealthy in society went to these places to commission skillful artisans for huge pieces of art. However, it was in Paris, France where tapestry making was developed into an art form.
French made tapestries were said to incorporate the use of gold threads obviously to showcase the social status of the person who commissioned the piece. It is therefore unfortunate to know that most of these French made tapestries were destroyed during the French revolution precisely because of the gold threads. The poor and the hungry harvested what ever value they can get.
Today, among the oldest surviving tapestries were those made in England during the 14th and 15th centuries. Based on what experts could gather from the tapestries themselves, the oldest ones that we know of came from Barcheston in Warwickshire. Others were from the looms of a Mortlake factory which was supposed to be been operational in the early 1600s.
Among the more well known manufacturers back then include Arras, Beauvais, Aubusson, Feletin, Bruges, Ghent, Gobelins, and Audenarde. These were the favorites of the nobles, kings and queens of old. These manufacturers have their own trademarks and collectors must learn to discern which is which.
But an important piece of information is knowing the fact that the tapestries that came out from these manufacturers have borders which oftentimes are unique to each maker. These borders are usually the first parts destroyed in a tapestry. Therefore, finding an old tapestry with borders still in tact is a great find and can actually be worth quite a lot.
During the course of history, the designs depicted in these tapestries changed from Roman battlefields to aristocrat hunting scenes. And probably one of the precursors of change is when the church actually commissioned the great Raphael to come up with the “Acts of the Apostles” series. This began the age where tapestries were used to imitate famous paintings and painters were included in the process of making one.
It was in the 16th century that tapestry making saw a new light in the guise of the Jacquard loom. The loom was developed in Flanders and brought tapestry making to a wider market. Suddenly kings and queens were not the only ones who can commission the work. But still, the looms were still not as “skillful” as master artisans of the trade who have been hand weaving tapestries for years.
After reading through, you should have seen the importance and value of tapestries. The older ones are more expensive, yes, that thing is for certain. And they are also the most wealthy in terms of historical content.