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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. 168 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 body of men have the patriotic pride to keep it alive. But as for its products, they are without inspiration, without beauty to the eye trained to higher expressions of art. The Gobelins to-day is almost purely a museum, not only in the treasures it exposes in its collection of ancient “toiles,” but because here is preserved the use of the high-warp loom, and the same method of manufacture as in other and better times. A crowd of interested folk drift in and out between the portals, survey the Pavilion of Louis XIV and the court, the garden and the stream, then, turning inside, the modern surveys the work of the ancient, the remnants of time. And no less curious and no less remote do the old tapestries seem than the atelier where the high looms rear their cylinders and mute men play their colour harmonies on the warp. It all seems of other times; it all seems dead. And it is a dead art. See larger image GOBELINS TAPESTRY. LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY Luxembourg, Paris

The Tapestry Book, by Helen Churchill Candee. 169 of 196 03/03/2009 19:16 See larger image GOBELINS TAPESTRY. LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY Pantheon, Paris The tapestries on the looms are garish, crude, modern art in its cheapest expression; or else they are brilliant-hued copies of time-softened paintings that were never meant to be translated into wool and silk. The looms are always busy, nevertheless. There is always preserved a staff of officers, the director, the chemist of dyes, and all that; and the tapissiers are careful workmen, with perfection, not haste, in view. The State directs the work, the State pays for it, the State consumes the products. That is the Republic’s way of continuing the craft that was the serious pleasure of kings. But there is now no personal element to give it the vital touch. There is no Gabrielle d’Estrées, nor Henri IV; no Medici, no Louis XIV, no Pompadour. All is impersonal, uninspired. Men who have worked in the deadening influence of the Gobelins declare that the factory cannot last much longer. But it is improbable that France—Republican France, that holds with bourgeois tenacity to aristocratic evidences—will abandon this, her expensive toy, her inheritance of the time of kings. In the time of the Second Empire it was the fashion to copy, at the Gobelins, the portraits of celebrated personages executed by Winterhalter. The exquisite portrait of the beautiful Empress Eugénie by this delectable court painter has a delicacy and grace that is all unhurt by contrast with more modern schools of painting. But fancy the texture of the lovely flesh copied in the medium of woven threads, no matter how delicately dyed and skilfully wrought. Painting is one art, tapestry-making is entirely another. But that is just where the fault lay and continued, the inability of the Gobelins ateliers to understand that the two must not be confused. The same false idea that caused

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