Arras was one of the most famous centers for the weaving of fine tapestries in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Inventories and account books of the period show that Arras was a rival of Paris in the production of tapestries in the latter half of the fourteenth century. When Paris lost its supremacy during the Hundred Years' War, Arras became the undisputed leader of the industry--largely under the patronage of the dukes of Burgundy--and maintained this position until about the middle of the fifteenth century. The fact that its name became a synonym for tapestry, as in the English word "arras" and the Italian "arazzo," is evidence of the widespread reputation of the Arras weavers. When Louis XI of France sacked the town in 1477 Arras lost its prestige. Other towns under the jurisdiction of the dukes of Burgundy, notably Tournai, which had for some time been gaining in importance in tapestry production, then took the lead.
Whether certain existing tapestries should be attributed to Arras or Tournai is a much-debated question. At the present time most attributions to Arras are made on the basis of period and style.
25. THE RESURRECTION. The Louvre, Paris Silk, with silver and gold threads. 2 feet 6 inches × 7 feet 11 inches
While two soldiers sleep, Christ arises from the tomb, a pair of bright-winged angels attending him, one holding the graveclothes.
Small tapestries such as this one, woven of fine silk and metal threads, were made for use as altar frontals and altarpieces. The present example was woven about 1420.
26. THE OFFERING OF THE HEART. The Louvre, Paris Wool and silk. 8 feet 1 inch × 6 feet 9 inches. Plate II
A lady, seated, wearing a cloak lined with ermine, holds a falcon on her gloved fist; her dog bounds towards her. A gentleman, also elegantly dressed, presents her with a heart.
This tapestry dates from the first half of the fifteenth century.
27, 28. THE HISTORY OF KING CLOVIS . Rheims Cathedral Treasury
These are the only two remaining hangings from a set of tapestries illustrating the History of King Clovis that was probably woven