The art of tapestry goes back to the highest antiquity Traces were found in ancient Egypt with the Copts and it is attested in Greece and Byzantium.
In the Middle Ages, the West inherited from the East. The tapestry of smooth appears in the texts at the beginning of the fourteenth century: in 1303, Paris knew the first occurrence of the corporation of the weavers, Arras in 1313. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries see the peak of this industry, which is concentrated in many French and Flemish cities of the Duchy of Burgundy and the Kingdom of France such as Bruges, Brussels, Paris, Valenciennes, Arras, Ghent, Tournai or Lille. Powerful merchants, real businessmen who provide the secular and ecclesiastical elites
From the beginning of the 16th century, the Renaissance gradually saw the penetration of new motifs from Italy and the Brussels workshops dominated the production
The woven production of the seventeenth century then moved to Paris where King Henri IV favored the installation and development of several private workshops to counter Flemish imports: - Workshop of the Hospital of the Trinity (1551-1635) - The workshop of the Grande Galerie du Louvre (1608-1661) - The workshop of the Faubourg Saint-Marcel (1601-1662) The workshop of the Faubourg Saint-Germain (1633-1667). The regrouping of these different workshops gives birth , after the Fronde, at the Royal Manufacture of the Gobelins in 1662 directed by the painter Charles Le Brun, pupil of Simon Vouet. The disgrace of Fouquet in 1661 melts this workshop in the new manufacture while the talent of Le Brun places it at the head Of the new structure
The XVIIIth century sees the constant rivalry between the Gobelins and Beauvais for the first place - From 1662 to 1683: the beginnings of the Beauvais factory are difficult while the style of the Gobelins stimulated by the royal patronage spreads throughout Europe. Death of Colbert in 1683 then the financial difficulties of the kingdom lead to the closure of the Gobelins from 1694 to 1699. Beauvais takes the advantage with the arrival of Philippe Behagle as new director. This one continues the manufacture of greenery appreciated by the Flemings, French and foreign in historical draperies, develops a new style in fashion: that of grotesques - From 1705 to 1725: the reopening of the Gobelins followed by the death of Behagle in 1705 allow the renewal of the Gobelins. Architects and ornemanists as Audran replace painters in the management of the manufacture. The size of the tapestries is reduced with the appearance of pet from 1725 to 1760: Beauvais reached its peak with the arrival of the painters Oudry then Boucher respectively specialized in the hunting scenes and pastoral gallants. Also develops the upholstery of seats, that is to say for furniture - From 1760 to 1780: with the arrival of Boucher at the Gobelins in 1755, this manufacture takes the advantage Its refined production of damask wall hanging highlighting the Central scene decorated with attractive surroundings seduces a more modest clientele. During the 18th century, the wallpapers also gradually replaced the tapestries in profane interiors ... The French Revolution is a fatal blow to the various manufactures that are closed. Only the state manufactures of Gobelins and Beauvais reopened with a production reserved for the official decorum where the copy of old cartons And furniture trim have the.
- Practical: Tapestries warm the walls of civil or religious buildings where they are stretched. They protect from cold or heat in summer in large rooms open to drafts and hardly heated by chimneys. They allow to divide spaces into thus dividing them into tapestries and partitions. They do not hesitate to cut or split them in order to spare a passage, as proved by the mutilation in the nineteenth century of the tapestry of the History of Clovis of the fifteenth century
- Decorative: In the churches the art of tapestry replaces the art of frescoes. The hangings with religious themes offer a renewed decoration according to the liturgical calendar both in the canonial choir and on the aisles. Evidently religious: life of Jesus, of the Virgin, of patron saints ... They are also stretched in the streets on procession days thus participating in urban decor and popular jubilation In the civil buildings, tapestries serve to upholster the walls but also To cover the furniture (files, skies, bed cover ...) thus forming a homogeneous decorative whole which takes the name of "room"
- Somptuaire: As an easily transportable furniture object, tapestries participate in the policy of pomp of the biggest while being an investment of capital. For example, the kings of France, the dukes of Burgundy or even Mazarin who possessed no less than 332 tapestries at his death They also occupy a prominent place in treasures especially religious