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.

William Morris Tree of Life tapestryToday the William Morris Tree of Life tapestry is woven in France and available in several sizes (above). Additionally, there’s a recent addition of one with brown earthy tones (below) or with a black background. Please click on the images for further details.

Tree of LIfe tapestries - William Morris wall tapestryGustav Klimt Tree of Life tapestries

Anyone with any knowledge of the mind of Gustav Klimt will not be surprised to discover that he was sufficiently intrigued with the Tree of Life to paint his own interpretations. Here are three, illustrating Klimt’s different approaches to the same theme.

A Klimt Tree of Life tapestry wallhangingGustav Klimt Tree of Life tapestryLebensbaum tapestry - Gustav Klimt designYour favourite? Our choices are indicated by my wife and I having one William Morris and one Gustav Klimt hanging at home: we like them all!






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!




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).



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.