Aubusson tapestries and rugs take their name from the small towns of Aubusson and Felletin, located in Central France from where they have been produced since the 14th century. Their fascinating history began with production on looms in small family workshops and local weavers were soon joined by highly skilled weavers from Flanders. Georgraphy played its part too, as the local river Creuse had acidic water which helped fix the natural vegetable pigments used to dye the wools used for weaving.
By the sixteenth century Aubusson tapestries were famous. During this time the weavers developed a new technique in which they were able to create depth of vision and created designs based on the Italian Renaissance, with its emphasis on a realistic depiction of nature and scenic landscapes. Such tapestries hung in the grand houses of the nobility, where they were status symbols. They were very visually impressive and it was difficult to copy or replicate them. The position of Aubusson as a dominant force remained unchallenged until the French Revolution which saw the downfall of the French nobility and their possessions were discredited and destroyed. At this time the manual weaving which was highly skilled and physically demanding was replaced by mechanisation and tapestries were no longer fashionable. Aubusson survived in a reduced capacity by creating reproductions and diversifying into furniture covers and floral tapestry carpets. Some simpler designs became popular once more at the end of the 19th century but it was not until after the end of World War II that a real revival in tapestry weaving occurred.
And Now Today . . .
The appeal of Aubusson tapestries has been gaining ground once more and they are again highly desirable. It is no wonder as they add so much to an interior space. The wonderful old colours in their woven wool and silk create a subtle palette of colours, they can be used in any room, whether to relieve a lack of natural light, liven up bare walls or in a small space where a hanging tapestry can dramatically define a space instead of relying on antique furniture and floor area.
The texture of tapestries create a tactile experience, they add warmth, depth and atmosphere to a room in a unique way. They are a perfect backdrop for English and French antique furniture adding richness and an extra layer of complexity to a room.
At Angela George Antiques I have been fortunate enough to have a variety of Aubusson antique textiles. This photograph is of a beautiful wall hanging depicting a woodland scene in lovely soft colours, featuring ducks and a swan framed by intricately woven trees to the sides, all created using soft muted tones. In addition I have an early Aubsusson panel featuring cherubs offset in a Victorian velvet surround. Coming soon will be some beautiful antique cushions made from sections of Aubusson, in the meantime please take a look at the antique textiles section to see all the wonderful creations which are currently available.