Francois Boucher wall tapestries – in pursuit of the idyll

Francois Boucher wall tapestries of the Louis XV period – Gobelins tapestry art celebrating the sensual Rococo style.

Francois Boucher wall tapestries are as respected today as they were during the Renaissance. This remarkable French tapestry artist and painter began his career engraving the works of Antoine Watteau. The son of a lace designer and Parisian painter he won the ‘Grand Prix de Rome’, a scholarship created during the reign of Louis XIV, which enabled him to spend four years studying at the Academy of France in Rome. During this time he was free to indulge his infatuation with the sensuality and frivolity of Rococo painting. After his return to Paris, Boucher was admitted to the prestigious Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In 1765 he was appointed by the mistress of Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, to became Court Painter to the King.

Francois Boucher (1703-1770) loved to focus on women and mythological themes, his paintings and tapestries being considered quite erotic for those times. Although he is considered to be one of the most influential tapestry artists in history, especially with regards to figure tapestries, his academic training enabled him to master many styles and techniques.

From 1755 until 1770 Francois Boucher was art director of the Manufacture Des Gobelins in Paris, a tapestry manufacturer established by Louis XIV famed for producing tapestries for the French kings. Today ‘Gobelins’ is run by the French Ministry of Culture and it hand-weaves contemporary tapestry art for the country’s government institutions. (My wife and I have taken the fascinating tour there.) Many of Gobelin’s most impressive tapestries were created by Boucher and Maurice Jacques. They produced a famous series of wool and silk tapestries, over four metres high and almost four metres wide. Serenade Rouge is just one tapestry of this set of four which adorned the chambers of the Duchess of Bourbon. The tapestries were sold during the Revolution.

His Noble Pastorale tapestries were woven several times at Beauvais after he was apppointed Director. This set of six large idealized pastoral scenes show him in pursuit of the idyll; Rococo shepherds and shepherdesses rather remarkably dressed in silk. We have numerous smaller details from this series available today, such as the top image.

The Triumph of Flora tapestry - Francois Boucher wall tapestriesTapestries like Serenade Rouge with decorative surrounds first appeared during the eighteenth century. But it was Boucher and Jacques who brought this tapestry style to its peak of popularity. Most tapestries before this period depicted historical events, religion and mythology. During the eighteenth century people sought tapestries with less sombre subjects and were looking for a more light-hearted and decorative styling. They were feminine and elegant; their style was unique in that these tapestries sought to imitate a variety of decorative techniques. But they also reflect heavily on Trompe l’Oeil, a technique which had been used by many artists for centuries, a style which seeks to depict things realistically and in a three dimensional light. Combining various styles, along with a vivid use of colours, makes these tapestries a quintessential example of 18th century tapestry art.

Francois Boucher wall tapestries were admired for their romance and idyllic depiction. All his tapestry works, even landscapes, achieved the same three dimensional qualities so beautifully emphasised in the ‘Serenade Rouge’ tapestry. A Francois Boucher tapestry is no longer reserved for the boudoirs of the aristocracy, now we can all enjoy his fabulous creations in our own homes. If you appreciate the Rococo style, you will enjoy these Boucher tapestries.

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World maps tapestries

World maps tapestries – interesting tapestry wall decor that intrigues us

We have an inbuilt curiosity in the world around us. This curiosity drove the first man to the ends of the world, a world everyone previously believed to be flat. Later it would send others to the moon. As people learned more of the world around them, they sought a way to record their discoveries and to make future discoveries easier by creating maps. Tapestry maps add a new dimension to these ancient maps. Further, these wall tapestries add charm and beauty to a room and also provide a focal point for interesting conversation.

Conquering uncharted horizons has been an obsession of man since time began. Therefore, it seems only natural that even today, we find tapestry maps so appealing. The Egyptians, Babylonians and the Greeks had a fascination with geography that compelled them to create maps.

Ptolemy’s world map was well known throughout Western society during the second century and was based upon ‘Geographia’ a book he had written around fifty years before. A reproduction of his world map was eventually published in 1482. (The original maps have never been discovered.) His book contained longitude and latitude co-ordinates, references and other important geographical information with regards to the various continents of the ‘Old World’ that was used to reconstruct the original world map. The ‘Geographia’ only describes the European, Asian and African continents.

Many of these world maps tapestries feature mythical creatures and gods, as did the Willem Blaeus Planisfero map - interesting tapestry wall decorancient cartography, adding to their decoration and interest. A classic world tapestry map often features two globes showing both the ancient Eastern and Western worlds. This is seen in the Willem Blaeu Planisfero map (left) available today as an Italian tapestry wall-hanging. Others might reflect the style of one of the most famous world maps ever made, “Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula”, a map created in 1630 by Dutch cartographer Henricus Hondius.  When translated, this means ‘A Complete New Map of the Earth and the Oceans’. It has been reproduced today as a French wall tapestry.

The most popular old map woven as a tapestry is Orbis Terrae Compendiosa Descriptio (“A Brief Representation of the World”) seen above. It is admirably woven in Belgium in a rich full weave.

These world maps tapestries make a wonderful focal point for today’s wall decor as collectable works of art – intriguing examples of what can be achieved when both the arts and science combine.

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Contemporary Fine Art tapestries

Contemporary fine art tapestries – wall tapestry designs benefit from modern yarns and dyes: in landscapes, town scenes, botanical watercolours and more…

Since ancient times tapestries have been used to adorn homes and important buildings. Historians believe tapestries even covered the walls of the Parthenon in Greece. They have been a favored by kings and queens, noblemen and women and by the Church throughout the ages gracing the walls of cathedrals, castles and the fine homes of the aristocracy. Once status symbols reserved for the rich and noble, today we can hang these wonderful decorative accessories in our own homes. Modern techniques have made art tapestries affordable.

In times past, tapestries provided insulation and would be transported from one residence to another. Being practical as well as beautiful has ensured these wonderful artistic creations have stood the test of time. Textile art has moved beyond functionality over the centuries and today art tapestries provide a beautiful focal point to a room.

For many of us, the historical aspect of fine art tapestries adds to their appeal. Lovers of art history will opt for tapestry reproductions of famous Old Masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, or Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers. Medieval tapestries also capture the imagination, created at a time when kings, knights, great battles and mythology ruled the hearts of the people throughout the western world. The marvellous detailing of these tapestries and their narratives draws us to this timeless art.

For others, a more modern touch is desired for their wall decor. Contemporary Contemporary Fine Art tapestries - landscape tapestryfine art tapestries offer homeowners a pleasing combination of the past and present. There is a good selection available including contemporary floral tapestries and modern landscapes woven in Belgium. New computer techniques recreate artists’ original work faster and more accurately. This makes the production of wall tapestries appealing to today’s artists who can license their work to be reproduced in this manner, examples being Bob Pejman and Simon Bull.

Miles of yarn are used to create just one single such tapestry. It is remarkable to imagine, all those years ago, that this would have been carried out by hand. Further, contemporary fine art tapestries use a broad range of colours with artists no longer being restricted by the limited palettes of times past. This is in stark contrast to medieval tapestries whose colours were dictated by dyes obtained only from vegetation and insects.

Despite the fact that today we can afford such luxuries thanks to today’s techniques, tapestries do continue to be regarded as works of art regardless of whether they be the reproduction of ancient masterpieces or of modern works. Undoubtedly, the bold colours and sharp design of today’s tapestries successfully deliver this ancient art form into the modern home.

They add a unique ambience to a room, creating a mood which is not so easily achieved with paint and canvas. Some of this is due to the tactile quality of tapestries which cannot be found within other art forms.

The most popular contemporary fine art tapestries themes today are:
Landscapes such as Mediterranean views and the Tuscan countryside,
– Town scenes such as Venice and Lake Como towns,
Botanical watercolours.

All art is a matter of personal preference but there has never been such a varied selection of these wall tapestry designs available.

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Flanders Tapestries

Flanders Tapestries – their historical development from art influences in Europe.

In the early 16th century in Brussels, an increasing number of tapestries were produced to satisfy the ever-increasing commissions. Since the old medieval high-warp technique had been too slow it was supplanted by the horizontal  low warp loom. This accelerated the process by having pedals to work the threads of the warp and it simplified access to the cartoons placed below the loom. These cartoons, ie the working drawings, belonged to the weaver who could alter them as he wished, lend them to colleagues or sell them. Two, three or four copies were usually woven of each tapestry.

Among the well-established workshops were those of Pieter van Aelst and Pieter Pannemaker. Van Aelst was accredited to Pope Leo X and three generations of reigning princes: Maximilian of Austria, Philip the Handsome, and Emperor Charles V. He produced a number of famous series – The Passion (1507) in Trento Cathedral and in the Spanish national collection, the History of David in Sigmaringen Castle and, most famous of all, The Acts of the Apostles from the Raphael cartoons. Pieter Pannemaker’s workshop is credited with the History of David now in the Musee de Cluny, with a tapestry thought to have been made for the throne of the Emperor Charles V, and with the admirable 1516 Last Supper in the Museo d’Arte Sacra at Camaiore.

The great success of the Brussels tapestries throughout Europe was partly due to contemporary conditions. In 1519 the Emperor Charles V inherited the lands of Burgundy, Austria, Castille and Aragon becoming thereby ruler of the greatest empire in the world. Vast riches flowed into a court which dominated Europe and set new social standards of luxury for the western world. Princes, dignitaries of the church and the aristocracy all vied with one another to own the precious narrative Flanders tapestries. Faced with this demand, designs in the style of Jan van Roome’s Hortus Conclusus, charming and delightful as they were, became out of date.

A new style came from Italy, powerfully influenced by Raphael’s cartoons for the Acts of the Apostles. Italy at this time was not yet an important centre for weaving. Itinerant weavers passed through Siena, Venice, Rome, Correggio, and Ferrara but their output had been small, no more than a few local commissions. There were a few outstanding exceptions – The Passion in the Museo di S. Marco in Venice which is attributed to the designs of Zanino di Pietro or Nicolo di Pietro (1420-1430), a powerful and expressive work, unique of its kind. Then there is the descent from the Cross in the Lenbach Collection and in the Cleveland Museum of Art which was undoubtedly woven in Ferrara from cartoons by Cosimo Tura, and the elegant classical Annunciation bearing the Gonzaga arms now in the Art Institute of Chicago. These are all fine examples of 15th century weaving.

A particularly valuable series is The Months in the Castello Sforzesco at Milan, woven from designs attributed to Bramantino. This is the first series in which the Renaissance discovery of space and perspective were methodically incorporated in tapestries. When Pope Leo X commissioned Raphael to design the tapestries for the Sistine chapel, he knew that the cartoons should be sent for weaving to van Aelst’s workshop in Brussels.

Raphael’s influence on the art of tapestry has been exhaustively discussed. It is important to realise that Raphael did not intend merely to transfer his pictorial art on to the loom. His aim was different – to introduce both spiritual and figurative symbols in a balanced and rational composition.

The influence his cartoons had on the Brussels craftsmen was overwhelming. He gave the death blow to the concept of the ‘woven wall’, although the monumental function of the tapestry was preserved. Henceforth decoration had to conform to architectural structure and narrative to the intellectual demands of cartoon.

The arrival in Italy of these Flanders tapestries provoked astonishment at the technical quality of the weaving and also the exactness with which the tapestry followed the original painting. This appreciation each region had for the other did not necessarily involve a full understanding: the weaving of the Acts (1515-1519) marked the beginning of a long series of exchanges between the northern weavers and the Italian painters.

The next works were the lost Putti at Play commissioned at Brussels by Leo X after cartoons by Giovanni da Udine, the Grottesche also designed by Giovanni da Udine for Leo X (also lost), the Life of Christ by van Aelst from cartoons by the school of Raphael (Vatican), and the execution in Brussels of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and offered by Francis 1 to Pope Clement VII of the Vatican.

The relationships between weavers of Italian and Flanders tapestries were further advanced with the reforms inaugurated by Flemish painters who had worked in Italy – such well known artists as Bernard van Orley (who superintended the weaving of the Acts of the Apostles at Brussels), Michiel Coxcie, Pieter Coecke, van Aelst and Jan Vermeyen. This change in taste was gradual and many of the older features still appeared – as in the Hunts of Maximilian of Austria by Bernard van Orley. The adoption of the Renaissance perspective, of vision in depth, is counterbalanced by an artificial composition in the background of the tapestry. The aim was clearly to retain the old weaving practices, which appeared indigenous to the tapestry, whilst incorporating the fresh elements.

Contemporary and traditional tastes were combined in the work of Pieter Coecke, in the History of St Paul (Vienna), and in the Seven Deadly Sins (Madrid). The cartoons of Michiel Coxcie are more in the manner of Raphael. The first tapestry woven from his Story of Genesis is in the Wawel Museum, Krakow, although here the craftsman has striven too hard for an expression which he has not fully understood.

The full effects of the new manner were not immediately evident. Jan Vermeyen, who designed the formal Conquest of Tunis commissioned by the Emperor Charles V (1554) turned to Mannerist themes in his Vertumnus and Pomona. He used designs after the ‘pergola school’ that followed at Brussels in the studio of Wilhelm Pannemaker at the same time as Putti at Play (Madrid).

Willem Pannemaker, the son of Pieter, was one of the most important weavers of Flanders tapestries then working in Brussels. Supplying the courts of the Emperors Charles V and Philip II, he produced some well known series such as the Conquest of Tunis, the Seven Deadly Sins, a copy of van Orley’s History of Jacob, and the marvellous Verdure with Large Foliage bearing the arms of the Emperor Charles V of (Vienna).

After 1528 the attribution of the various series to different workshops became easier. This was the year in which the municipality of Brussels instructed the various workshops to use two trademarks, one for the city (a red shield between two Bs, the initials of Brussels and Brabant) and a personal one. These trademarks are not all identifiable although those of the major weavers of Flanders tapestries are known.

Alphonse Mucha tapestries

The art of Alphonse Mucha typifies Art Nouveau for many of us, so it’s been pleasing to see 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 in Scotland 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. Alphonse Mucha’s flowing style in swirling soft pastel colours was a departure from the past, later much imitated.

Alphonse Mucha tapestries

Today we can enjoy some of his decorative art in the Alphonse Mucha tapestries Alphonse Mucha Evening tapestrywoven in France or Belgium. Most are in series of four designs depicting the seasons or the times of the day and most are woven in several size options.

I love the colours and the flow of the main design into the borders of his Times of the Day series. They were colour lithographs of 1899 which are superbly woven today by Belgian weavers in a thick yet tight weave of 79% cotton: see Evening Reverie on the right. My wife and I had two of these hanging in our master bathroom: see below. (Incidentally, people sometimes wonder if humidity means that tapestries should not be hung in bathrooms, but we did not notice any ill-effects.)

Three years previously Alphonse Mucha produced a series celebrating the seasons. These are now available as wall tapestries from two weavers each having quite different colourings, so you can select according to your decor. You will notice a difference in price points; just remember that this is the best indicator of quality.

Mucha tapestries in a bathroom

We’d love to see a photograph if you have any Art Nouveau tapestry designs in your home. Share the pleasure!

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Gustav Klimt tapestries

Gustav Klimt tapestries are much in demand, especially The Kiss tapestry and the his Tree of Life tapestries. These Art Nouveau designs are available today 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:

The Kiss TapestryThe Kiss - Klimt tapestry

 

 

 

 

 

Here we see these two tapestries in two different homes:

The Kiss tapestry above a fireplace

 

 

The Kiss tapestry in a bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Adele Bloch-Bauer IThe Tapestry House has over twenty Klimt tapestries in its collection featuring works including The Tree of Life below:

The Tree of Life tapestry by Gustav KlimtAll our Gustav Klimt tapestries 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).

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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 tapestries from his wonderful art and a further one from a modern painting of Monet’s lake at Giverny in Normandy. It is not difficult to see why Claude Monets art is ideal as tapestry wall-hangings.

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 the softness of a wall tapestry suits the Impressionist style well.
·    Many homes have a Monet framed print but not many a tapestry. Now there are many of his paintings available as Monet tapestries including Giverny scenes
·    Impressionist art is perhaps the most popular period for home décor today.
·    And they are so beautiful!

Irises in Monet's Garden tapestry - Claude Monet tapestriesAbove is one of these new tapestries, Irises in Monet’s Garden, woven in Belgium featuring his gardens at Giverny, from a 1900 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 (see top image) and now a new Belgian tapestry (below) from a painting by Bob Pejman who is responsible for many of our Mediterranean tapestries.

Giverny Pond tapestry - Monet's lake

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Bob Pejman art tapestries

Bob Pejman art tapestries form a popular part of our selection – Tuscan, Lake Como and Mediterranean tapestry wall-hangings woven in Belgium.

We have over 20 designs available, most in several sizes, such as this Vineyard Tapestry:Bob Pejman - Vineyard TapestryPejman describes his art as “Romantic Realism” though I consider his realism to be more significant than the romantic. We are drawn to his art by our desires to experience those warm beautiful settings of Lake Como, Venice, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Their slightly exaggerated emphases are reminiscent of theatrical set designs, compounded by his insertion of urns, pillars and statues. We know that we are not seeing the scene quite as it appears, but do we care? To enjoy such scenes at home on a wintry day warms us inside.

To balance this, here is a video which explores the romantic aspect of Bob Pejman’s art, enhanced by Gounod’s Ave Maria.

What is your favourite: do browse through the choice of Bob Pejman tapestries? Mine is this street in Bellagio Village descending to Lake Como which my wife and I have hanging in our staircase at home.

Bellagio Village tapestry - Bob Pejman DesignsWhether your preference leans towards the romantic or the realism we’re confident Bob Pejman art tapestries will bring you years of pleasure; ever-popular scenes to warm our hearts and homes. We have most in stock for immediate shipping.

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Monets Garden tapestries

The series of Monets Garden tapestries have consistently been amongst our most popular wall tapestries in recent years. They are superbly woven in 89% cotton in Belgium by a family company.

Monets Garden tapestries - Giverny lake tapestryLeft is one of these Belgian tapestries in our home; proof that we love it too. This is the horizontal scene from the series which also includes a square version and a vertical one, all in several sizes. Handily, all are available with or without the antique gold border here.

Our admiration for this tapestry increased after we visited Giverny, the Normandy home of Claude Monet from 1883 until his death in 1926. As we drove into the village we were among hordes of cars: what a popular place this must be! Yet we were a little baffled that the cars were not tourist rentals but older, battered vehicles. All was revealed when a large field revealed their destination: a car boot sale!

To follow our tour you might like to visit a good website of Monet’s Garden in Giverny. We were there in late September so avoided the tour parties (most useful when we wanted to take photos of the famous Japanese bridge). We began by walking through the Clos Normand flower gardens and then through his home with its collection of Japanese prints. So far the visit was interesting but nothing special. This was to change.

Since Monet’s death a road had been built inconveniently between his home and lake. Access was through a dank tunnel under the road. This short unpleasant tunnel provided a contrast to the wonderful scene which opened up before us: Monet’s lake, his water garden. This was definitely “something to write home about”.  We thoroughly enjoyed walking around it, entranced by its peaceful inspiring beauty. You could see the influence of his Japanese prints on the design.

So our love of this fine Belgian tapestry of Monet’s Garden is understandable. Last month we had the pleasure of taking one of the larger sizes to a fine home further north on Vancouver Island. It may look small below but the tapestry itself is seven feet wide.

Monets Garden wall tapestry - Belgian tapestries

The many options woven of the Monets Garden tapestries are good news for those who would enjoy the beauty of this peaceful scene in their homes. You will find them in the Monet section of our Art tapestries.

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Impressionists and Pre-Raphaelites

The Impressionists and Pre-Raphaelites sprang up at much the same time but how different they were! One looked to the future, the other to the past; one sought representation, the other sought accuracy. In both France and Britain a band of young artists rejected the status quo of the established art world and were in turn rejected by it. Yet the artistic response of the two movements was so very different.

In France the Academie des Beaux-Arts endeavoured to control the style and content of Impressionist wall tapestries - Monet tapestry artcontemporary art, seeking realism in portraits and historical themes. Alternative approaches to art were stifled. The group of young artists later known as Impressionists met together from the mid-1860’s not only to discuss the development of art but how to transform the artistic world of their day and actually make a living from it. Most of them often painted landscapes en plein air and produced paintings with less realism but reflecting the true colour of a scene, its sunlight and shadows. They included Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas. Although they diverged in individual styles we easily recognise these paintings for their settings, colours and brushstroke techniques. Their works are generally restricted to paintings though Degas’s sculptures are highly respected. The best collection of Impressionist works is at one of my favourite two art museums, Musee d’Orsay in Paris (my other favourite is the Uffizi Gallery in Florence).

In England, a similar reaction by young artists was taking place but echoing romantic idealism from medieval times. In 1848 the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, later joined or allied with the likes of John William Waterhouse, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. As in France, they had no respect for the established art society, in this case the Royal Academy.

Pre-Raphaelite art sought to copy nature accurately rather than in the slightly later Impressionist manner. In 1860 architect Alexander Beresford-Hope described this as “a most strong and determined realism – a determination to paint nature absolutely” and he added a further aspect of the Pre-Raphaelites: “a sort of mysticism, half-hieratic, half-theological and withal chivalrous”. It is easy to see personalities and principles which led to the broader Arts and Crafts Movement, both earthed in the philosophies of John Ruskin.

We are now the beneficiaries of both these movements, the Impressionists and Pre-Raphaelites, in their very different ways. We can see how Impressionism was a more natural artistic development in the historical context of the last 160 years. The romantic idealism of Pre-Raphaelite art can be seen in Art Nouveau so it was not isolated even if its flowering was brief. We have a good number of Impressionist tapestries available to us today but few Pre-Raphaelite tapestries; let’s hope for more soon. We will place these art wall tapestries on The Tapestry House website as they are woven.

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