Post 377 – by Gautam Shah
The name Gobelin is synonymous with French tapestries. Gobelin was the name of a family of dyers of 15th C., who in all probability came from Reims, established themselves, in Faubourg Saint Marcel, on banks of Bièvre, Paris. The original entrepreneur brothers Jean and Philibert Gobelin (firm Jehan 1476) had a unique formulation for scarlet colour dyestuff. The owners expended outrageous amounts of money, so common people called the unit, as la folie Gobelin (madness of Gobelin). From a dye workshop they graduated to tapestry manufacturing.
In 1601 Henry IV of France rented the tapestry factory and brought in Flemish weavers (Marc de Comans and François de la Planche, and from 1629 their sons Charles de Comans and Raphaël de la Planche) to produce tapestries. The workshop was split into two when the Flemish weavers separated around 1650. Flemish tapestries from of this early period are called pre-gobelins. In 1662 Louis XIV started looking after the tapestry and upholstery production for furnishing the royal palaces, until 1694.
The third or fourth generations of Gobelins became very rich, and deserted the trade and started buying the titles of nobility. For example Balthasar, became treasurer general of artillery, treasurer extraordinary of war, councillor secretary of the king, chancellor of the exchequer, councillor of state and president of the chamber of accounts, and in 1601 received lands and lordship of Brie-Comte-Robert from Henry IV.
In 1662 the original Goblin estate and adjoining space were taken over on the behalf of Louis XIV. Charles Le Brun, who was a royal painter, also served as chief designer and manager, here, from 1663-1690. This was a large factory setup for upholstery and tapestry design and production besides various types of furniture. This setup suffered a lot due to Louis XIV’s financial problems. During the 1600s and 1700s, the Goblin factory products were sought after by nobility in whole of Europe.
The Beauvais tapestry manufacture was the second in importance, after the Gobelins tapestry, of French tapestry workshops that were established under the general direction of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the finance minister of Louis XIV. Whereas the royal Gobelins manufacture executed tapestries for the royal residences and for ambassadorial gifts, the manufacture at Beauvais always remained a private enterprise. Beauvais specialized in low-warp tapestry weaving, though the letters patent of 1664, authorizing the company and offering royal protection, left the field open for the production of high-warp tapestry as well. (From Wikipedia).
During the French Revolution (1789), work at the factory was suspended, but was reopened by Napoleon. Since 1826 it has manufactured carpets and tapestries.
The Manufacture des Gobelins, also known as ‘Royal factory’ is located in Paris, France, at 42 avenue des Gobelins, near the Les Gobelins Metro station. It is now run by the French Ministry of Culture. It now produces limited amounts of tapestries for the decoration of French governmental institutions. The estate also has Le Brun’s residence and workshop and foundries that formed the bronze statues in the park of Versailles.
Goblin tapestries are considered ‘painting by needle stitch’. The tapestry was formed on canvas by a fine needle, rather than through weaving. It used to take from three months to one year to form a masterpiece. Gobelin stitch is a slanting stitch used in needlepoint. Gobelin stitch takes its name from its specific texture.