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The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image

The Tapestry Book, by Helen... - Yesterday Image


The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 104 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 the director who blighted and subverted talent, and the vitiated public taste that shifted restlessly and demanded novelty. The novelty that came in large hangings was a suppressing of the delicate subjects that delight the imagination by their playful grace, their association of human life with all that is gaily exquisite. The mode was for leaving the land of idealised mythology, for discarding the flowers, the scrolls, the happy loves and charming crew that lived among them, and for plunging into Roman history, real and ugly, enwrapped in drapings too full, cumbered with forced accessory, or into such mythology as is represented in Cupid and Psyche. (Plate facing page 132.) The History of Esther illustrates the loss of imagination sustained by the border which had come to be a mere woven imitation, in shades of brown and yellow, of a carved and gilded, wooden frame. At the close of the reign of Louis XV, borders were frankly abandoned altogether. Compare this state of things with the days when Audran and Coypel were producing the sets of The Seasons, The Months, and Don Quixote. It is aridness compared to talented invention. See larger image CUPID AND PSYCHE Gobelins Tapestry. Eighteenth Century. Design by Coypel

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 105 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image PORTRAIT OF CATHERINE OF RUSSIA Gobelins under Louis XVI. The top note of the imitation of painting was struck when the Gobelins set the task of becoming a portrait maker. (Plate facing page 133.) The work was done, it was bound to be, as royalty backed the demand. Portraits were woven of Louis XV (to be seen now at Versailles), and his queen, of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and others less well known. A better scheme for limiting the talent of the weaver could not have been suggested by his most ingenious enemy. He was a man of talent or his art had not reached so high, and as such must be untrammelled; but here was given him a work where personal discretion was not allowed, where he must copy tone for tone, shade by shade, the myriad indefinite blendings of the brush. It is this practice, pursued to its end, that has made of the tapestry weaver a mere part of a machine, and tapestry-making a lost art, to remain in obscurity until weavers return to the time before the French decadence. The temper of those who hold in their hands the direction of the people, these are the determining causes of the products of that age. If d’Angivillier was responsible for displacing a transcendent art with a false one, if he routed a dainty mythology and its accessories with the heavy effort and paraphernalia of the Romans, on whom shall we place the entirely supportable responsibility of diminishing tapestries from noble draperies down to mere furniture coverings? The result came happily, with much fluttering of fans, dropping of handkerchiefs, with powder, patches, intrigues, naughty sports, and a general necessity for a gay company to divide itself into groups of four or two—a lady and a cavalier, forsooth—the inevitable man and maid. In the time of the preceding king, Louis XIV, the court lived in masses. Life was a pageant, a grand one, moving in slow dignity of gorgeous crowds,

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