A Handbook to the Loan Exhibition of French Tapestries: Mediaeval, Renaissance and Modern, from the Public and Private Collections of France

By Metropolitan Museum Of Art | Go to book overview

THE GOBELINS FACTORY 1650-1700

In 1662 the various Paris ateliers were consolidated by Louis XIV and his minister Colbert into one vast royal manufactory, the Gobelins. The factory was under the general supervision of Colbert, with Charles LeBrun as its director. The master weavers Jean Jans, Jean LeFebvre, and Henry Laurent each had charge of one of the three ateliers equipped with high-warp, or vertical, looms. Before the end of the seventeenth century four ateliers with low-warp, or horizontal, looms also were in operation. A number of the craftsmen who worked in the ateliers of the Gobelins were Flemish; others were French. The output of the establishment was enormous.

100, 101. TWO PORTIÈRES OF MARS. The Louvre, Paris

Wool and silk. Each 10 feet 10 inches × 8 feet 4 inches

The series of six portières to which these hangings belong was designed by LeBrun when he was in the employ of Nicolas Fouquet, the minister of finance. The set was executed in tapestry many times, first for Fouquet in the ateliers set up at Maincy near his château at Vaux-le-Vicomte and, after his fall in 1661, for Louis XIV at the Gobelins manufactory.

In the middle of an architecural enframement the arms of France and Navarre are displayed within oval escutcheons encircled by the collars of the orders of the Holy Spirit and Saint Michael, resting on horns of plenty, and set against a background of flags and trophies of war. Below is a terrestrial globe with the seated figures of Mars and Minerva at either side; two cupids are holding ribbons from above. The border represents an ovolo and gadrooned molding with acanthus leaves in the upper corners.

102. THE TRIUMPHAL CHARIOT. Château, Pau

Wool and silk. 10 feet 10 inches × 8 feet 5 inches

This is one of a series of portières which, like the Mars series described above, was designed by LeBrun for Fouquet. The design was made in 1659.

A large shield with the arms of France and Navarre, encircled by the collars of the orders of the Holy Spirit and Saint Michael and

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