Portiere wall-hangings

You may ask, “What is a portière?”. Portiere wall-hangings are defined by Wikipedia as: “A portière is a hanging curtain placed over a door or over the doorless entrance to a room.” We need to expand on this regarding their use in centuries past and today. Walking through a French chateau or elegant Paris mansion you would see portières hanging on either side of doorways, adding to their grandeur. Several of these portières are available today, all being tall slim French tapestries. Since the visual characteristic of these is that they are both tall and slim they can be woven tapestries in other styles, not necessarily suitable for an elegant chateau. They may be suitable for a humble home (yours?). Today portiere wall-hangings are much more adaptable for our homes simply because of the variety of styles. Yes, there are elegant designs but consider these too: medieval tapestries, verdures (ie forested scenes), numerous botanical hangings, even Art Nouveau portières. Several are available as pairs of hanging tapestries; visually a pair is far more than doubly effective than a sole tapestry. These pairs might flank a door in the traditional manner but are excellent ways to decorate a large wall. My favourites, though, are the William Morris portieres in their Arts & Crafts splendour. Furthermore, they are unusually varied in sizes and colour tones. Seen on the right above, this one is the medium of three sizes. It is the green and yellow version; you can also order a maroon and … Continue reading

Tree of Life tapestries – but which one?

A variety of Tree of Life tapestries are on our website, mostly from William Morris or Gustav Klimt. Given this selection it is interesting to consider the background to this subject and why they continue to be popular today. The Tree of Life For most, the Tree of Life is traced way back to the earliest Biblical narratives. In Genesis God planted a “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the paradise setting of the Garden of Eden whose fruit gave everlasting life. Not surprisingly, God forbad Adam and Eve to eat it – in Genesis 3 v 22, God said that man “must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever”. However the serpent intervened and the rest is history. Since then the Tree of Life has found it way into a wide variety of beliefs with varying interpretations. So it is not surprising that artists have felt compelled to depict it. William Morris Tree of Life tapestries William Morris is the most significant of these from the perspective of tapestries. He chose to set it within the context of the medieval “mille fleurs” (thousand flowers) background which he much admired. Thoroughly typical of his style, combining nature and history, it remains timeless. This timelessness is key to its popularity. Today the William Morris Tree of Life tapestry is woven in France and available in several sizes (above). Additionally, there’s a recent addition of … Continue reading

How much is my tapestry worth?

“How much is my tapestry worth?” is a question we receive weekly via email. Tapestry value questions come in two other variants so we’ll discuss appropriate responses: – “My grandmother had this old tapestry (… sort of description). Can you tell me something about it?” – “How do we clean our old tapestry?” How much is my tapestry worth? The short answer is surely “Whatever someone is prepared to pay for it”, but that’s not very helpful even though the law of supply and demand must prevail. My wife and I always enjoy watching the BBC Antiques Roadshow where the experts consistently point out these factors for the value of an antique tapestry or other furnishings: Condition. Is the tapestry stained and marked, torn or faded? Provenance. What is known about its history? This concerns where it was woven and by whom, where it came from and where it has hung. Uniqueness. Is it rare or a wall tapestry woven in large quantities? Its market today. These days Francois Boucher 18th century designs have less commercial value than 20 years ago whereas Art Nouveau designs are more popular now. We can only make general statements about tapestry value without seeing tapestries. Since we are not antique dealers with no expertise in such matters we never undertake to view and value. So we always suggest that you take your tapestry to an antiques dealer in your nearest large city who deals in textiles. We never recommend selling online since you’ll nearly … Continue reading

Edward Burne-Jones tapestries

Edward Burne Jones and William Morris have so many connections in tapestries and in art generally. Their friendship, co-operative work and shared understandings about art resulted in some marvellous tapestries. Edward Burne-Jones – his life Edward Burne Jones (no hyphen until 1894) was born in 1833, and attended Oxford University where he became known as Ned Jones by his friends after Dante Gabriel Rossetti altered his name. He married Georgiana Macdonald in 1860. Both this marriage and that of William and Janey Morris were troubled, and Georgie and Morris became close confidantes. Burne-Jones became a baronet in 1894, to his embarrassment and the disgust of socialists Georgiana and Morris. He died in 1898, two years after Morris. Edward Burne-Jones – his art Rossetti was a strong initial influence until Ned found his own style. This remained true to the Pre-Raphaelite movement, later veering towards the Aesthetic Movement. He was also clearly identified with the Arts and Crafts Movement too! His “Last Judgement” stained glass window in Birmingham Cathedral, produced by Morris & Co, is considered his greatest masterpiece by some with its dramatic flowing lines full of life. It’s dreaminess was to become a hallmark of Burne-Jones art which extended beyond his oil and watercolour paintings, stained glass, illustrations and even stage sets to tapestries, to our good fortune. Edward Burne-Jones – his tapestries Edward Burne-Jones was particularly interested in exploring imagery of the Holy Grail in his paintings and tapestries. Today, several of this series woven by Morris & … Continue reading

Alphonse Mucha tapestries

Alphonse Mucha typifies Art Nouveau for many of us. We have noticed an increasing interest in Alphonse Mucha tapestries; hence this article about the man and his work. One of the privileges of having your own blog is that you can write about matters of personal interest with a greater passion hoping that others will catch this and appreciate it.  I’ve always respected art movements which are a way of life, such as the Arts and Crafts Movement. The breadth of Art Nouveau incorporated so much in daily life; for example, Charles Rennie Macintosh’s designs for new homes included everything from the architecture to the cutlery. In Czechoslavakia Alphonse Mucha was part of a cultural movement although it is his designs and illustrations that remain prominent today. Alphonse Mucha Alfons Maria Mucha was born in 1860 and studied art first at Vienna and Munich before moving to Paris in 1887. (Where would late 19th century and early 20th century art be without the influence of Paris?) The story is well known how he went into a print shop in late 1894 and discovered that a poster was needed in a hurry for a Sarah Bernhardt play. On 1st January 1895 his lithographed poster appeared and the rest, as they say, is history. Bernhardt employed Mucha for the next six years and Mucha broadened his output into advertisements, book illustrations and paintings. Often forgotten is that his work extended beyond the commercial world to designing theatre sets, wallpaper, carpets and jewellery. … Continue reading

Naive art – simple or sophisticated?

Naive art is defined by Wikipedia as “a classification of art that is often characterized by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique.” There are very few tapestries which conform to this definition, maybe a Modigliani or the occasional floral tapestry. First though, there seems to be a blurred distinction between images which are simplistic yet sophisticated. Take these two: and The first, from the Bayeux Tapestry, shows William’s cavalry about to embark from Normandy to sail to England in 1066. The four horses have twelve legs. The second is a logo for the 2013 Tour de France having nine cyclists whose bicycles have a total of ten wheels. Naive or sophisticated? Some might consider The Bayeux Tapestry to be naive as seen from todays world. It was to be over 400 years before Rapael was to master perspective. So much art before his day had a certain naivety in its composition, with figures clumsily out of proportion to their setting. Maybe medieval tapestries such as The Lady with the Unicorn are naive art too?  

Gustav Klimt tapestries

Gustav Klimt tapestries are much in demand, especially The Kiss tapestry and the Klimt Tree of Life tapestries. Both are available from The Tapestry House in several versions from different European tapestry weavers. (Art Nouveau tapestries also feature the works of Alphonse Mucha.) Gustav Klimt painted in Vienna from the 1890’s until his death in 1918 with his personal style evolving through the use of gold leaf in his “Golden Phase”. This period produced The Kiss (1907) which two weavers have now reproduced as Klimt tapestries both in several sizes:           Here we see these two tapestries in two different homes:                         Another Golden Phase painting, Adele Bloch-Bauer I sold in 2006 for $135 million but you will be pleased to know that the Adele Bloch-Bauer tapestry can be yours for a mere $85! The Tapestry House has over twenty Klimt tapestries in its collection featuring works including The Tree of Life: All our Klimt tapestry wall hangings are lined with a rod pocket for easy hanging. We provide instructions for their easy hanging and care. To order, just go to the above link, find the desired tapestry and click on the Add to Cart button to enter the securely encrypted shopping cart. We will confirm receipt of your order and of the shipping (we have most in stock).

Monet tapestries

Monet tapestries, ie tapestry reproductions of his wonderful paintings, are understandably popular today. One of our supplying tapestry weavers has just released two more Monet tapestries and a further one from a painting of Monet’s lake at Giverny. It is not difficult to see why Claude Monet’s art is ideal as tapestry wallhangings. Monet tapestries ·    The soft brush strokes of Monet’s Impressionist art lends itself so well to the gentle appearance produced by tapestry weaving. ·    Framed prints have a hard look whereas I think the softness of a wall tapestry suits the Impressionist style really well. ·    Many homes have a Monet framed print but not many a tapestry. Now there are many of his paintings available as Monet tapestries. ·    Impressionist art is perhaps the most popular period for home décor today. ·    And they are so beautiful! Above is one of these new Monet tapestries, Alle de Monet, woven in Belgium. We see the main path of his gardens at Giverny, from a 1901 oil painting. Monet’s art has inspired so many so it is not surprising that we have tapestries by modern artists of his lake where he spent productive years. These include the Monet’s Garden series and now a new Belgian tapestry from a painting by Bob Pejman who is responsible for many of our Mediterranean tapestries.

How to hang a tapestry

Every order shipped by The Tapestry House includes a sheet with information about how to hang a tapestry. This also discusses its simple care. Here is that information: These practical points will help you care for your tapestry wall hanging. 1.      There may be transit creases on your tapestry when you receive it. These can be removed easily by careful pressing with a steam iron on the rear side. 2.      Tapestries are woven individually and part of their individuality is that there may be irregularities in the weave or there may be hanging undulations. You can attach weights to the lower lining if desired but this is not necessary.  Do not expect them to be precisely square and flat like a framed print: this is not their character. 3.      There are two ways to hang tapestries (our finishing has a rod pocket on the lining): –         a) cut a length of round wooden dowel slightly longer than the rod pocket. Insert a small closed cup-hook into each end and simply place them over small picture hook nails. This is quick, easy and inexpensive. –         b) buy a metal or wooden rod with finials (decorative ends) from a  local drapery, hardware or interiors store. Use the brackets to hang the tapestry ‘off’ the wall, or hang the rod over two nails hammered down at a 45 degree angle to mount flush. See our Display Gallery for examples of tapestries in the home. 4.      To aid colour co-ordination – add a pair … Continue reading

Tapestry Weaving in the 21st Century

Tapestry weaving in the 21st century might seem a strange topic for a weaving craft which is recorded back to the ancient Egyptians. However, tapestry weaving has undergone two revolutions in the past two hundred years and it is helpful to see how these have impacted the modern weaving of tapestries. Until 1801 all tapestry weaving was made by hand in the time-honoured style. This could take two months to weave just one square foot – and tapestries were generally very large. Note above how the passing of bobbins through the warp and weft threads produces a unique line of design, little by little: a true artisan craft. Then the first revolution in weaving took place in 1801 when Joseph-Marie Jacquard created his mechanical Jacquard loom using punch cards to control and automate the weaving process. Steady improvements naturally took place until in recent years commercial tapestry weavers were able to adopt electronic looms to take advantage of new technology. Speed and consistency improved significantly. Nonetheless much human application is required throughout the process from design through weaving to the finishing work. These machine woven tapestries are most commonly featured on our tapestry website. So how do I see the future for tapestry weaving in the 21st century? In the next blog article I will discuss this in relation to: – hand-woven tapestries available today, – machine-woven tapestries, – the weavers: artisans producing unique tapestries and those weaving to order, and the companies whose machine-woven tapestries are most commonly purchased … Continue reading