Important History of Tapestry

By: rhusain
Many countries like England, encouraged establishments of tapestry factories in different places. Some of these places produced some of the finest tapestry and they have survived for long proving their excellence.

It can be assumed that tapestry was woven in England from an early date; a Royal decree of 1364 refers to the corporation of Tapissers, but nothing of their work has been identified. The earliest surviving pieces, positively of English make, bear dates between about 1580 and 1600 and were made on looms set up at Barcheston, Warwickshire, by William Sheldon. Some fragments of tapestry maps of English counties, and other panels, have survived, and prove that Sheldon sponsored excellent work.

More important was the factory started at Mortlake in 1620. This was under the patronage of Charles I (both as Prince of Wales and as King), and operated successfully until the Civil War, which inevitably caused a decline in orders. After 1670 little work was done at Mortlake, and the factory removed eventually to Soho, London, where production was continued throughout the first half of the eighteenth century. Although the later work was not of the outstanding quality of the earlier Mortlake tapestry, it was adequate for normal usage in both town and country.

Tapestry is subject to damage by that enemy of all woolen fabrics: the moth. In addition, its very size and weight lead to deterioration over the years, and the action of sun, damp air and heat and smoke from fires tends to perish the ageing fabric. Repair is feasible, but is apt to be expensive as there is a declining number of experts to whom such work can be entrusted.

Almost all tapestries left the loom complete with a border, varying in pattern from factory to factory and over the years, after the manner of a picture frame. In the course of time, these borders have often been mutilated or replaced, and it should be borne in mind by the collector that the presence or absence of the original border greatly affects the value of a panel.

Books
Needlework: Domestic Needlework, by S. G. Seligman and T. Hughes illustrates and describes specimens ranging from caps and gloves to cushions and pictures. Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery, by J. L. Nevinson (1950),* issued by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Lace: The Romance of Lace, by M. E. Jones (1951) deals with the history of the subject from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.
Tapestry: A History of Tapestry, by W. G. Thomson (1930), French Tapestry, by Andre Lejard (1946), and English Tapestries of the 18th Century, by H. C. Marillier (1930).

The moth, and the action of sun, damp air and heat can easily damage Tapestry and smoke from fires tends to perish the ageing fabric and repairing it is very expensive. Taking good care is the best way to keep it longer. These books listed above can give you some tips on the embroidery, lace, and tapestry.
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