ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Tapestry

Updated on December 25, 2009

A tapestry is a heavy handwoven fabric colorfully patterned and usually hung as a wall decoration. It can also be used as a carpet or drapery. The craft of tapestry weaving flourished particularly during the late Middle Ages, when tapestries served both as decoration and insulation for the stone walls of castles. One of the most famous examples of French Gothic tapestry is The Hunt of the Unicorn series (The Cloisters, New York City).

An ancient technique, tapestry weaving has changed little over the centuries. The basic warp is made by stretching undyed linen yarn lengthwise across a loom. The decorative pattern is woven through the warp with bobbins of colored silk or wool thread. These threads form the weft, or woof, of the fabric. As portions of the tapestry are completed, they are rolled around one end of the loom so that fresh warp is exposed.

Areas of different color are woven separately. Each color is provided by a different thread. Depending on the intricacy of the color design, the number of weft strands may range from about 50 to many thousands. Later, areas of color are stitched together to close up gaps of unwoven warp. Elaborate tapestries often require many weavers and may take years to complete.

Tapestries can be woven on two types of looms. Some weavers use a high-warp loom, or haute-lisse, in which the warp threads are arranged vertically, and others employ a low-warp loom, or basse-lisse, in which the warp is stretched horizontally. The weavimportant tapestry centers were monasteries and convents, which produced handwoven fabrics for a variety of religious purposes. Early medieval tapestries were frequently made of wool, and their designs were usually flat and stylized representations of Biblical subjects.

The manufacture of tapestries reached a height of development during the late Middle Ages. Leading centers arose in the 14th century at Arras and Paris in France. Later, the industry spread to Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, and other cities of western Europe. Religious themes continued to be popular subjects of tapestry design. However, there was a growing emphasis on background detail and on secular costume, and there were lush displays of colored and metallic threads. Famous Gothic tapestries include the 14th-century Apocalypse series and the 15th-century Seven Sacraments.

During the Renaissance, tapestry design became increasingly like oil painting in its use of perspective and other illusionistic devices. Mythological subjects as well as scenes of daily life were incorporated in the tapestries, which were frequently conceived on a huge scale. A famous set of tapestries made by Flemish weavers is the series Acts of the Apostles based on designs by the painter Raphael. Fine cartoons were also produced by William Sheldon, who opened the first English tapestry works in about 1560.

Tapestry weaving continued to thrive in Europe throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Particularly outstanding were the products of the Gobelins tapestry works, which became King Louis XIV's private factory in 1662. The weavers of Aubusson and Beauvais were also famous for their designs. Tapestries of this period were realistic and had a wide array of delicate colors. Examples are the Constantine tapestries, designed by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, and the Cupid and Psyche series, based on cartoons by the French painter Francois Boucher.

With the production of factory-made cloth in the 19th century, handweaving declined. Simulated tapestry carpets, draperies, and upholstery fabrics were woven on mechanical Jacquard looms. Such limitations, however, were generally inferior in design and texture to handmade tapestries. Late in the 19th century the traditional craft of tapestry weaving was revived in England by the artists William Morris and Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

Among the leading contemporary tapestry designers is the Frenchman Jean Lurcat. Modern tapestries have also been adapted from the paintings of many famous 20th-century artists, including Stuart Davis, Henri Matisse, and Joan Miro.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)