Religious tapestries

Religious tapestries make an intriguing and inspirational addition to any home. They are not only of great interest to Christians but have an aesthetic appeal to art collectors. There is an extensive range to choose from, many being reproductions of some of the finest religious works of art ever produced. They have been woven since the thirteenth century, initially used to inspire church congregations, who were often illiterate, with illustrated Biblical tales.

Religious tapestries possess a beauty that is capable of enlightening those who might not consider themselves to be spiritual. They can project a positive ambience into even the dullest of rooms. Beautiful and thought provoking, they make for conversation pieces and are, of course, perfect for prayer and meditations rooms.

Religious art has long been at the very centre of the art world. After the fall of Rome artists poured their energies into the emerging strength of Christianity which swept through Europe to become the dominant force in society, culture and philosophy. From this came some of the most sublime art ever produced. The Italian Renaissance alone produced arguably some of the most distinct and well-known art in history.

Religious-related myths and legends are also depicted through tapestries. For example, Morris & Co’s ‘Quest for the Holy Grail’ series produced around 1898 had six tapestries based upon Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Le Mort D’Arthur’, (The Death of Arthur). This fifteenth century text describes the search by King Arthur’s ‘Knights of the Round Table’ to find the ‘Holy Grail’, the legendary cup from which Jesus and his disciples drank from at The Last Supper.

The Last Supper tapestry

Several versions are woven today in Italy of The Last Supper tapestry (one is above). They are based upon a fifteenth century fresco, among Leonardo da Vinci’s most inspired works, and now among our most popular religious tapestries, indeed of any in our collection. ‘The Last Supper’ was originally commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza and Duchess Beatrice D’Este. It is believed that work began on this masterpiece around 1495, although the start date is hazy. As Kenneth Clark points out in his book, ‘Leonardo da Vinci’, the archives taken from the Italian Dominican convent of St Maria delle Grazie (where it was later discovered) were destroyed. Clark states, “our meagre documents date from 1497”, and by this time the painting was almost finished. However, typical of Leonardo, he did not work continuously upon it during that time.

The Last Supper is a representation of a meal during the last days of Jesus, when he foretold that one of the Apostles would betray him, as written in the Gospel of John 13:21. Tapestries which reproduce this wonderful fresco do remain true to the original. Even so, the tapestry wallhangings available today are much smaller, since the original measured twenty nine feet long and fifteen feet high. ‘The Last Supper’ completes the rear wall of the convent’s dining hall in Milan, so a dining room would be a fabulous setting for this particular tapestry within the home. The tapestries, like the original, depict the reaction of all twelve Apostles; Bartholomew, James, Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, John, (Jesus central), Thomas, James the Greater, Philip, Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot (from left to right).

Madonna of the Chair tapestries - religious tapestry artFurther religious tapestry art often reproduces works from some of the greatest painters in history, from Giotto to Peruzzi. Michelangelo’s The Creation from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Robert Peruzzi’s Madonna of the Streets, El Greco’s Trinity in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, and Raphael’s Madonna of the Chair (above) being among them. Although most are of an Italian classical nature they do possess a timelessness, having a certain serene quality. Religious tapestries can provide a dramatic focal point for any room.

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Edward Burne-Jones tapestries

Edward Burne-Jones tapestries are often viewed in the context of the collaborations he enjoyed with William Morris. They 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 (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. Sir Edward 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.

Rossetti was a strong initial influence until Ned found his own artistic 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 tapestries

Edward Burne-Jones was particularly interested in exploring imagery of the Holy Grail Quest for the Holy Grail tapestry - Edward Burne-Jones tapestriesin his paintings and tapestries. Today, several of this series woven by Morris & Co in the 1890’s are available, finely woven in France. He described tapestries as “half way between painting and ornament. I know nothing that’s so deliciously half way”. His skill creating romanticised flowing figures balanced well with William Morris’s ability to create fine backgrounds.

Their collaboration produced tapestry art such as Pomona and Flora, An Angel Playing a Flageolet tapestry - Edward Burne-Jones tapestrieswith Burne-Jones designing the figures and Morris the detailed backgrounds. We also have a version of an 1878 watercolour, “An Angel Playing a Flageolet”, now woven in France as one of the most popular Edward Burne-Jones tapestries, especially in the Christmas holiday season.

A selection of his tapestries are available today, woven in France. Most are in more than one size and all are lined, with a rod pocket for easy wall-hanging.


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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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William Morris Tapestry Art

William Morris was an English designer, poet, artist and craftsman whose designs for textiles, stained glass, furniture, wallpaper and many other decorative arts helped create the Arts and Crafts Movement during the Victorian era. The talents of Morris knew no bounds. He had an innate curiosity and an appreciation of all things beautiful and he tried his hands at almost everything in the applied arts.

Morris was born in March 1834 in Walthamstow, Essex and had a comfortable childhood before attending Marlborough and Exeter College, Oxford. Whilst studying for Holy Orders at Oxford in 1853 he met Edward Burne-Jones who would later become his business partner and lifelong friend. He abandoned his studies after reading the social criticisms of Carlyle, Kingsley and Ruskin and decided instead to become an architect. The young novice became an apprentice to G.E. Street, an architect involved in the Gothic revival. But impulsively creative he soon tired of this and began, like his friend Burne-Jones, to paint. Finding art his forte he embraced it fully, writing poetry, printing, learning how to weave and dye and work a loom. It was the latter pursuit that would come to demonstrate William Morris tapestry art at its most impressive. His beautiful tapestries became among his most famous creations.

In 1879, Morris set up a loom in his house (in his bedroom!) and taught himself to weave with only an old French crafts manual for guidance. William Morris tapestry art was born! Within a matter of months he had completed his first tapestry design, Acanthus and Vine. He founded Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company along with friends Peter Paul Marshall and Charles Faulkner. Together with Edward Burne-Jones and fellow artists Ford Maddox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rosetti the group produced some of the most creative paintings and tapestries Britain had seen.

One of William Morris’s most enduring legacies was his revitalization of tapestry weaving. By the mid-19th century tapestries had become just another mass-produced item, generally from Les Gobelins factory in Paris of which Morris was scathing. Driven by the need to demonstrate the importance of the individual over the means of production Morris used tapestry and textile design to revitalize the central importance of creativity in art. It was his ambition to breathe new life into the art and he achieved it: his tapestries still remain an important influence on design today. His most famous works generally featured figures drawn by Burne-Jones. Morris would design the background and the tapestry would be woven by Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, which became simply Morris & Co in 1874 when Morris took sole control.

The Quest for the Holy Grail, currently exhibited at the Birmingham Museum, is one of the best known works of Morris & Co. Like many of the others, the tapestry, which depicts the fascinating story of the search for the Holy Grail, was designed by Edward Burne-Jones. Six wall hangings illustrate the story, woven in 1895-96.

A further example, one of the most intricate and beautiful creations from the company is the Tree of Life tapestry. Designed by Morris it demonstrates his talent with patterns and his awareness and appreciation of the use of colour. Symbolising growth and continuous life, the Tree of Life wall tapestry is still one Morris’s most recognisable works; one of the most popular French tapestries available today.

William Morris Tree of Life tapestryThe works of Morris are proof that real beauty can be timeless. As popular today as they were over a century ago, William Morris tapestry art, has continued to inspire new generations of artists and craftsmen to reach beyond convention and to genuinely create.

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