Monet’s Garden and the Cat

Monet’s Garden tapestries are one of our most popular scenes in our collection, having numerous different interpretations of his delightful lake garden and its iconic bridge. Monet lived there for over 40 years and today we can visit his house, flower garden and lake.

The most popular Monet’s Garden tapestry is available in several sizes, woven in Belgium in a deep, somewhat three-dimensional weave. My wife and I hung it in our old house and, after re-decorating, set out to do so in our new home. Its location was clearly to be above an antique Victorian Gothic Revival table. Hanging it was straightforward (see notes on how to hang a tapestry), nicely centred over the table. All we had to do was to place some suitable decorative objects on the table and the setting would be complete.

But then the cat stepped in. Taylor, our old lady, had not been impressed with the re-positioning of furniture so she selected the nearest empty space.

Monet's Garden and the cat

The pose stated “I’m not budging; you’ve disrupted my life too much”.

 

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Large tapestries

We occasionally receive enquiries about large tapestries. Imagine the drama of a really large tapestry on your wall!

To make it easier to locate such pieces of large wall art we have created a separate section on our website called Larger Tapestries. Monet's Garden large wall tapestryThis is sub-divided into two aspects for convenience:
a) large tapestries which are either vertical or horizontal in format,
b) large tapestries in these themes: fine art, elegant, floral, medieval, landscapes, contemporary, arts & crafts, or miscellaneous.
The Monet’s Garden tapestry shown here is nearly 12 feet long and memorably dramatic.

There are only a limited number of really large tapestries Matching pair of tapestriesdue to the constraints of the weavers’ looms. The width of the loom will determine the maximum size of one dimension. So if a large space needs covering we suggest a second option, the use of matching pairs of wall tapestries. This can be extremely effective and versatile too since there is flexibility in the empty space between the tapestries. Take a look at the matching pairs of tapestries on our website where the same themes are sub-divided for ease of selection.

Please email us if you want more precise information about available options about large tapestries.

 

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Francois Boucher tapestries

Francois Boucher tapestries flowed from the work of Louis XV’s court painter who was the dominant force in French art in the second half of the 18th century.

Francois Boucher was born in Paris in 1703. (Being born early in a century provides the opportunity to be a dominant force in one’s field for a century, rather than straddling two centures; convenient for the telling of history.) He died in 1770. It was said of him, “Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it.”

Francois Boucher art

This taste was the French Rococo style. Boucher expressed it in hisThe Triumph of Flora - Francois Boucher tapestries romantic, idyllic country scenes though he was also a portrait artist. Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV, sat for him several times. There is a distinctly classical element throughout his art, whether the settings were pastoral scenes or formal compositions, combining innocence with a touch of eroticism. A certain voluptuousness expresses the influence of Rubens. Mythological themes featured in some of his paintings, some being available now as wall tapestries, such as The Triumph of Flora (right). In 1765 Boucher was appointed as the King’s Painter and as Director of the Royal Academy.

Francois Boucher tapestries

From 1736, Francois Boucher designed tapestries for the royal workshops at Beauvais until 1755 when he was appointed Director of the royal Gobelins workshops.

At Beauvais he designed 45 tapestries in six series. Today the Noble Pastorale series are the most commonly available Francois Boucher tapestries. These idealised country landscapes showed shepherds and shepherdesses in sumptuous silks engaged in romantic pursuits. One can understand Denis Diderot’s criticism of Boucher: “That man is capable of everything—except the truth”. The originals were twelve feet high and up to nineteen feet long so modern weavers have taken details from them and, of course, scaled down the sizes to fit today’s houses rather than royal palaces.

NObles Pastorales tapestries

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The Apocalyse Tapestry

The Apocalyse Tapestry in Angers is one of those historical masterpieces which takes your breath away and then transports you into another world.

The Apocalyse Tapestry display

The importance of a controlled climate in the hall where the Apocalyse Tapestry is displayed results in fortuitous stage management – you walk through two solid sets of doors and then involuntarily go “Aah!”. The only other place where tapestries really do this for me is when entering the oval room where the Lady with the Unicorn tapestries are shown in the Cluny Museum, Paris.

The Apocalypse Tapestry in AngersThe sheer size of the total number of panels is staggering – they are a total of 353 feet long and 20 feet high yet are only seventy of the original nearly hundred panels.

The Apocalyse Tapestry history

The Apocalyse Tapestry was designed by painter Hennequin de Bruges for Louis I of Anjou. It was woven in Paris between 1375 and 1382 by a team led by Nicolas Bataille and Robert Poincon. In six sections it shows scenes of the Apocalyse in St John’s Book of Revelation: the end of the world. Thus there are plenty of scenes of horror and death but righteouness prevails triumphantly. It was displayed in Angers Cathedral for centuries, telling a striking visual tale to the illiterate people of Angers. But it was cut into many pieces in the French Revolution and suffered the fate of many tapestries. Fortunately much was saved and the retrieved portions eventually returned to the cathedral.

The Apocalyse Tapestry today

In 1954 a new hall was created for the Apocalyse Tapestry in the Chateau d’Angers where we enjoy this ancient medieval masterpiece today. One of our French weavers has produced a wall tapestry featuring the New Jerusalem from the Apocalypse Tapestry (click on the image for more details):

The New Jerusalem Tapestry - Apocalyse Tapestry

 

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Alphonse Mucha tapestries

Alphonse Mucha tapestries, together with a selection of Gustav Klimt designs, form the extremely popular Art Nouveau collection.

Over 15 years ago one of our supplying European weavers bought up another tapestry weaver and promptly dropped the four seasons tapestries by Mucha. We expressed disappointment and were told that there was no demand for them. It’s a very different story now!

Mucha Times of the Day tapestries - Afternoon tapestryMucha Times of the Day tapestries - Evening tapestrySeveral weavers in France and Belgium are now producing Mucha tapestries with their flowing lines and soft, warm depth. Here we see Afternoon and Evening from Mucha’s Times of the Day lithographed in 1899. The Belgian weaver has woven the full series admirably in 91% cotton, with the depth being recreated through their thick yet tight weave. They are favourites of ours, with two in our bathroom at home:
Alphonse Mucha tapestries in a bathroom

Born in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) in 1860 Alphonse Mucha moved to Paris in 1887 where he had a highly successful career after producing a poster for a Sarah Bernhardt play. In 1896 he produced his Seasons series of lithographs. Here (top) is the summer tapestry:

Mucha summer tapestry
Alphonse Mucha tapestry
In 1898 Mucha produced a series of four lithographs celebrating the arts: painting, poetry, music and dance. The last two are now available as wall tapestries from a long-established French weaver:

Music tapestry by Alphonse Mucha Dance tapestry by Alphonse Mucha

Some Mucha tapestries are available in several sizes and we aim to keep most in stock for immediate shipping. To order, just click on the Buy button next to the price to enter the securely encrypted shopping cart. We will confirm receipt of your order and provide tracking information. Soon you will be enjoying a Mucha tapestry in your home!

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The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries

The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries exhibit in the Cluny Museum is one of two places I know in Paris which bring a sense of awe to all its visitors. The other is Sainte Chapelle (below), the 13th century Gothic chapel with its soaring stained glass windows.

Sainte Chapelle Why these are the most popular of our medieval tapestries? Is it their beauty, history, survival, imagery? There are about 40 versions of The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries on our website, from several European weavers. A few favourites are shown here.

Taste tapestry - The Lady with the Unicorn wall tapestries

Creation of The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries

The cartoons (original designs) for the tapestries were made in Paris and then they were woven in Flanders from wool and silk, probably in about 1511. The banners on each tapestry show the arms of Jean le Viste who was in the court of King Charles VII.

The limited range of colours adds to their cohesive visual strength but is due mainly to the limitations of the time. Dyes were extracted from plants and insects in a range of less than twenty colours: such as red came from madder, pomegranates or poppies, and blue from woad. (Woad was so profitable in 16th century France that importing it from the East was punishable by death: extreme protectionism!).

A Mon Seul Desir tapestry

Imagery of The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries

Five of the tapestries feature the senses – taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch. The sixth has the enigmatic words “A Mon Seul Desir” written on the tent. These may translate literally as “To my only love” or “My sole desire” but what do they mean? Interestingly, this is the only tapestry where the lady smiles. Is she picking up or putting down the necklace; does it matter?

All show a unicorn on the left of the lady and a lion on her right. Unicorns represented purity and lions strength and valour. Some include monkeys, rabbits and birds. Each has a mille fleurs (thousand flowers) background of small flowers many with attributes and meanings commonly understood at the time. Mille fleurs tapestries were the dominant style of late 15th century French weaving.

Lady and the Unicorn - Lion tapestry

Later history of The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries

Forgotten and lost, the six tapestries were discovered in the castle of Boussac in 1841 by the writer Prosper Mérimée in a poor conditions caused by dampness and rats. The novelist George Sands drew attention to them and they were acquired by the Cluny Museum in 1882. A poor restoration was made of the damaged lower portions causing the dyes to fade soon whereas the original colours have withstood the centuries.

The Lady with the Unicorn tapestries today

These national treasures of France are stunningly displayed in their own circular room at the Musee National du Moyen Age (Cluny Museum)– do note that this exhibit is closed from April to December 2013 for improvements to the room. The poor image below is a close-up I took years ago of A Mon Seul Desir.
Today they have inspired many musicians and authors and caught the imagination of many in Harry Potter films.

The Lady with the Unicorn - A Mon Seul Desir

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Monet and Modigliani – contrasts in life and art

One of our French tapestry weavers has just released the first ever tapestry of a Modigliani painting. Noting that Modigliani and Monet died within a few years of each other it seemed interesting to explore the similarities and differences between these two contemporaneous artists.

Both were strongly influenced by the Parisian art world and both rejected art of the establishment in their differing ways. Yet how different they were.

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani was born in 1884 and died of tuberculosis in 1920, aged only 35. In 1903 he moved to Venice where the themes of his future life took root: art, alcohol and drugs, women and continuing sickness. Three years later he settled in Paris where these aspects of his life took full rein in Parisian bohemian artistic society.

In a Montmartre commune his lifestyle deteriorated from having a dapper appearance, drinking occasionally and writing home regularly to becoming an alcoholic and drug addict whose life was falling apart. His rejection of the past extended to destroying many of his early works.

Influences on his art progressed from Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Paul Cezanne. A series of nudes resulted in his only exhibition, in 1917, but it was closed by the police on the first day on obscenity grounds.

In 1917 he met Jeanne Hebuterne who is the model in our Modigliani tapestry Portrait of Woman in Hat. Sadly, she threw herself off a balcony the day after Modigliani’s death.

Modigliani - Portrait of Woman in Hat
Why is it that so many great artists have such extreme personalities and succumb to such troubled minds? It’s as if aspects of their personalities are intensified. This often seems to result in more intense, inspired art. Thankfully, this is not a requirement – as illustrated by Monet.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet was born in 1840 and died in 1926, aged 86. His art turned away from established styles after 1862 when he was studying in Paris. With Renoir, Sisley and others, he began painting en plein air, concentrating on the perceived effects of sunlight; later termed Impressionism. These translate superbly into Impressionism tapestries, with the soft weave bringing the brushstrokes to life.

The first Impressionism exhibition of 1874 included his Impression, Sunrise. Like Modigliani he frequently painted his loves, in this case his wife Camille until her death from tuberculosis in 1879.

In 1883 he moved to Giverny with Alice Hoschede whom he later married. They raised their combined eight children in a setting where Monet had a fulfilled life painting the garden, lake and surrounding nature in the Seine valley. Over 1,100 paintings are attributed to him. I can never escape a mental picture of a rather cuddly looking man with a bushy beard sitting at an easel before lovely scenery. Am I sentimental? Nonetheless, this is such a stark contrast to sad Modigliani.

Monet Poppies in a Field tapestry
Whatever you preferences might be for art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries it is heartening to know that we have wall tapestries available reproducing some of these highlights: not just Monet and Modigliani, but also Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin and many of the Art Nouveau masters Klimt and Mucha. See over 70 Impressionist and related tapestries and nearly 50 Art Nouveau tapestries.

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Tapestry Weaving in England

Tapestry weaving in England sounds initially odd since England can hardly be considered synonymous with tapestry weaving … unless you consider William Morris. However, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

During the medieval period royalty and aristocracy valued tapestries so much that they would take them with them during travels within their domains. They would be set up in the court of the current residence. It is not surprising that the presence of status symbols such as these would lead to European monarchs wanting them in their own courts. Even better, they wanted them woven in their own countries; their own tapestries. They conveniently ignored the facts that Flemish weavers were responsible for every creative aspect. Weaving venues included Copenhagen, Stockholm, Madrid and St Petersburg.

English kings were no exception. In 1619 James I established the Mortlake tapestry weaving workshops on the River Thames importing weavers from Flanders. Nonetheless, the Flemish weavers continued with the design styles they were accustomed to, so no English style resulted. Royal patronage continued under Charles I. The Commonwealth naturally disapproved of such flamboyance and then Charles II showed little interest so the factory closed in 1703. In this same period a private workshop wove tapestries in Soho with Chinese and Indian influences.

Only in the latter 19th century did tapestry weaving in England resume. Two very different styles resulted.

The Royal Windsor Tapestry Manufactory was established in 1876 by two Frenchmen and staffed largely by French weavers from Aubusson. Starting with two low warp looms they grew to using 16 at the factory’s closure in 1890. They obtained significant support and patronage from Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, until his sudden death in 1884.

The Merry Wives of Windsor tapestryTheir tapestries were dramatic in the French style. In 1878 they won a gold medal in Paris for a series of eight tapestries, the Merry Wives of Windsor (click on above image for a full history). Intriguingly, the set disappeared, remerging at an auction in the 1970s. Queen Victoria commissioned designs and used the Royal Windsor Tapestry Works to repair tapestries in the royal collection. However the factory never broadened its clientele beyond royalty and the aristocracy. It was to take a different tapestry workshop, with very different ideals and styles, to attempt to do this: Morris & Co.

William Morris was the energetic visionary behind Morris & Co and the leading light of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain. In 1878 he visited Aubusson and described the weaving there as ‘a decaying commercial industry of ..rubbish‘. He had a high-warp loom of the medieval style built in his bedroom and at the beginning of each day taught himself to weave from an 18th century French craft manual. Morris & Co was a collaborative company of artists including Edward Burne-Jones who was responsible for many Morris & Co tapestries. He sometimes partnered with William Morris – Burne-Jones designing the figures and Morris the background which Morris & Co wove at Merton Abbey. Today we have an extensive selection of these Arts and Crafts tapestries available from Tapestry Art Designs. Examples are Acanthus and Vine (1879), The Woodpecker (1885), Flora (1885), and the “Holy Grail” series of the early 1890s.

Acanthus and Vine tapestry - William Morris tapestriesDespite Morris’s enthusiasm for socialism in his later years they were never able to make their hand-woven tapestry masterpieces accessible to the average persons purse. From now on tapestry creations were in the hands of individual artisans. They worked a private craft producing one-off designs generally on a small scale, for tapestry weaving is time-consuming. A notable exception is the 75’ high tapestry of Christ in Glory in Coventry Cathedral.

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The Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry must be considered to be one of the most significant pieces of early medieval art. My wife and I were in Normandy several years ago and it seems strange on reflection that we decided not to view this masterpiece. We had visited many chateaux and museums so we probably felt “over-full” of art. Instead we visited Monet’s home at Giverny and loved his lake, toured pretty towns like the charming port of Honfleurs and enjoyed cider and crepes. But we will return to see the Tapestry and to enjoy the cuisine.

I will not dwell upon the main facts re the Bayeux Tapestry other than summarise them if you are not familiar with it, but will focus on some personal responses to it.

You can see all the Bayeux Tapestry scenes in Wikipedia. The “tapestry” is actually an embroidery which was completed by 1077 for the dedication of the new Bayeux Cathedral. Measuring 230 feet long it shows about 50 scenes of the events of the conquest of England by the Normans sealed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. I suspect that its remarkable creation was through the labour of nuns, for who else would have had the time in those days of hand-to-mouth existence?

The Bayeux Tapestry  - Archbishop StigantI experienced a rather remarkable connection with the Bayeux Tapestry here on Vancouver Island 15 years ago. In a framing shop I met Ernie Stigant who is a descendant of Archbishop Stigant. Can you imagine having an ancestor who is shown, and named, on the Bayeux Tapestry? His ancestor, shown above,  served six succesive English kings and was excommunicated by five popes; clearly an interesting man.

A favourite scene now available has to be the one known as The Battle. Click on the image below to see details of the two sizes of this French tapestry we sell.
The Battle - Bayeux TapestryUnfortunately the other two scenes which particularly intrigue me are not reproduced as tapestries today. Firstly, we see the appearance of Halley’s Comet that fateful year. It only appears every 75 years so was naturally seen as an omen.
Bayeux Tapestry - Halley's Come

Consequently the death of Saxon King Harold, killed by an arrow in an eye, must have added to the fear present. Little did the archer responsible realise that his arrow caused one of the turning points in English history.
Bayeux Tapestry - Death of HaroldPlease do browse through our selection of Bayeux tapestries – there are many scenes to enjoy.

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Simon Bull art tapestries

Simon Bull art tapestries now form a valued part of our website collection of floral tapestries. We were hesitant at first about introducing these contemporary floral designs until we received our first order for one, saw it and immediately appreciated it:
Because of You tapestry - Simon Bull art tapestries“Because of You” (above) is typical of his artwork, with its bold use of vibrant colours. I have not seen any of his watercolours but am convinced that his art transfers superbly to the tapestry medium. The Belgian weavers have used a variety of thick yarns which are woven tightly with the result that there is rich fullness yet good detailing; an excellent combination.
Desiree wallhanging - Simon Bull tapestrySimon Bull’s background helps to explain the vibrancy of these tapestries. When quite young he lived on the edge of the South American rainforest with all its colours and mystery. Later years in Hong Kong influenced his energetic compositions countered by the fine Chinese brushwork around him. The Simon Bull art website gives a fuller biography, “He was moving away from painting the outward things, his canvases began to be expressions of the inner world, the world of the heart and of the spirit where the real life of mankind is felt and lived.”.
Lydia wall tapestry - Simon Bull art tapestriesThe Contemporary Floral Tapestries section of our website presents all the Simon Bull art tapestries and many others – 50 striking botanical tapestry wallhangings for homes old or new.

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