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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. 112 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 the king; Beauvais was founded for commerce. The Gobelins was royally conceived as a source of supply for palaces and châteaux of royalty and royalty’s friends. Beauvais was intended to supply with tapestry any persons who cared to buy them, to the end that profit (if profit there were) should be to the good of the country. So the factory was founded at Beauvais as being convenient to Paris, although it was not known as a place where the industry had flourished hitherto, notwithstanding the old tapestries still in the cathedral which are accorded a local origin in the first half of the Sixteenth Century. And the king granted it letters patent, and large sums of money to start the enterprise, which had to be given a building, and men to manage it and to work therein, and materials to work with, in fact, the duplicate in less degree of the appropriations for the Gobelins, except that the furniture department was omitted. The idea was practically the same as that in the mind of the paternal Henri IV when he united the scattered factories with royal interest and patronage, but with always the large end in view of benefiting his people financially, as well as in the province of art. With our modern republican views we can criticise the disinterestedness of a monarch who maintains a factory at enormous public expense exclusively for the indulgence of kings. And yet, it seems impossible to make both an artistic and commercial success of a tapestry factory—at least this is the conclusion to which one is forced in a study of the Beauvais factory. Louis Hinart was the man appointed to construct the buildings and to stock them, and the royal appropriation therefor, was 60,000 livres. He was to engage a hundred workers for the first year, more to be added; and special prizes were temptingly offered for workmen coming from other countries, and to the contractor for each tapestry sold for exportation. See larger image

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 113 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 HENRI IV BEFORE PARIS Beauvais Tapestry, Seventeenth Century. Design by Vincent See larger image HENRI IV AND GABRIELLE D’ESTRÉES Design by Vincent Thus was trade to be encouraged, and the venture put on its feet commercially. But alas, the factory was not a success. Tapestries were woven, hundreds of them, and they delight us now wherever we can find them, whether low warp or high, whether large pieces with figures or smaller pieces almost entirely verdure of an entrancing kind. But the orders for large hangings, the heavy patronage from outside France, was of the imagination only, and the verdures for home consumption did not meet the expenses of the factory. After twenty years of struggle, Hinart was completely ruined and ceded the direction of the factory to a Fleming of Tournai, Philip Béhagle. As most of the workers were Flemish, this was probably not disagreeable to them. Béhagle, more energetic than Hinart, with a gift for initiative, set the high-warp looms to work with extraordinary activity. As though he would rival the great Gobelins itself, he reproduced the most ambitious of pieces, the Raphael series, Acts of the Apostles, and a long list of ponderous groups wherein oversized gods disport themselves in a heavy setting of architecture and voluminous draperies. He also produced some contemporary battle scenes which are now in the royal collection of Sweden. Not content with copying, Béhagle set up a school of design in the factory, realising that the base of all decorative art was design. Le Pape was the artist set over it. From this grew many of the lovely smaller patterns which have made the factory famous. Its garlands have ever been inspired, and its work on borders is of exquisite conception and execution.

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