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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. 106 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 but a pageant on which beat the fierce light of a throne jealous of its grandeur. No chance was here for sweet escape and no chance for light communing. But all that saw a change. The needs of the lighter court and the lighter people, were for reminders that life is a merry dance in which partners change often, and sitting-out a figure with one of them is part of the game. Perhaps the huge apartments were not to the taste of Regent Philippe, and certainly they were not convenient to the life of the king when he came to man’s estate. So, down came the ceiling’s height, and closer drew the walls, until the model of the Petit Trianon was reached and considered the ideal—if that were not indeed the miniature Swiss Cottage. What place had an acre of tapestry in these little rooms? How could yards of undulating colour hang over walls that were already overlaid with the most exquisite low relief in wood that has ever been carved this side of the Renaissance in Italy? No place for it whatever. So, out with it—the fashions have changed. But there was the furniture. That, too, was smaller than hitherto. But this was the day of artists skilled in small design, and they must fill the need. A CHAPTER XIII THE GOBELINS FACTORY (Continued) ND so it came about that tapestry fell from the walls, shrunk like a pricked balloon and landed in miniature on chairs, sofas and screens. How felt the artists about this domesticating of their art? We are not told of the wry face they made when, with ideals in their souls, they were set to compose chair-seats for the Pompadour. Her preference was for Boucher. Perhaps his revenge showed itself by treating the bourgeoise courtisane to a bit of coarseness now and then, slyly hid in dainties. The artist, Louis Tessier, appeased himself by composing for furniture a design of simple bouquets of flowers thrown on a damask background; but, with such surety of hand, such elegance, are these ornaments designed and composed, that he who but runs past them must feel the power of their exquisite beauty. In this manufacture of small pieces the Gobelins factory unhappily put itself on the same footing as Beauvais and much confusion of the products has since resulted. The dignity of the art was lowered when the size and purpose of tapestries were reduced to mere furniture coverings. The age of Louis XV, looked at decoratively, was an age of miniature, and the reign that followed was the same. When small chambers came into vogue, furniture diminished to suit them, and not only were walls too small for tapestries to hang on, but chairs, sofas and screens offered less space than ever before for woven designs, now preciously fine in quality and minutiæ. Tapestry weaving now entered the region of fancy-work for the drawing-room’s idle hour, and we see even the king himself, lounging idly among his favourite companions,

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 107 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 working at a tiny loom, his latest pretty toy. Compare this trifling with the attitude of Henri IV and Louis XIV toward tapestry weaving, and we have the situation in a nutshell. Louis XV passed from the scene, likewise the charming bits of immorality who danced through his reign. However much we may disapprove their manner of life, we are ever glad that their taste sanctioned—more than that—urged, the production of a decorative style almost unsurpassed. To the artists belong the glory, but times were such that an artist must die of suppression if those in power refuse to patronise his art. So we are glad that Antoinette Poisson appreciated art, and that Jeanne Verbernier made of it a serious consideration, for, what was liked by La Pompadour and Du Barry must needs be favoured by the king. When Louis XVI came to the throne, the return to antiquity for inspiration had already begun, but did not fully develop until later on, when David became court painter under Napoleon. Yet the tonic note of decoration was classic. Designs were still small and details were from Greek inspiration. As tapestries were still but furniture coverings, this was not to be regretted, for nothing could be better suited to small spaces, nor could drawing be more exquisitely pure and chaste than when copied from Greek detail. See larger image CHAIR OF TAPESTRY. STYLE OF LOUIS XV

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